Landlord has Right to Lock Out Dance Studio Even if Rent is Current

Question: For twelve years my sister has owned a dance studio in a Glendale shopping center.  Last summer she was delinquent in her rent, primarily because of summer vacations of her students. My sister eventually was able to pay the Glendale shopping center all of the delinquent rent, plus all of the Glendale shopping center’s attorney’s fees and costs.  She was current on her rent when she was “locked out” by the Glendale shopping center’s management over a weekend.  Although my sister’s lawyer said that there was nothing that can be done now, my sister still does not understand how she can be “locked out” when she was current on her rent.  Is that the law?

Answer:  Yes. In a typical commercial lease, i.e., a retail, office, industrial, or a dance studio lease, the tenant cannot “cure” a default for delinquent rent by simply paying the delinquent rent, and paying the landlord’s attorney’s fees and costs.  The landlord can still accept rent, and then re-take possession of the leased premises by either (1) filing a forcible eviction lawsuit or (2) exercising self-help with a “lock-out” of the tenant.

Note: A residential tenant living in an apartment or a home, however, has much greater protection than a commercial tenant.  First, the landlord does not have any right to “lock out” a residential tenant, but must always file a forcible detainer lawsuit to evict a residential tenant. Second, a residential tenant can stop any eviction proceedings by simply paying the delinquent rent and the landlord’s attorney’s fees and costs.

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