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Tenant replaced AC unit and send me the bill, but lease is not clear on such issue

Discussion in 'Commercial Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by lincolntung, Jun 3, 2010.

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  1. lincolntung

    lincolntung Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The Tenant (Subway) at the Ace Center in Springfield, KY went a head replaced a new air condition unit (without notify me first), and wants to send me the bill. She (Lisa) claimed that it stated in the Lease.

    Here is a portion of the Lease:

    lease agreement dated June 29, 1995
    Section Seven - Repairs and Maintenance:

    "Landlord shall, at his expense, maintain the exterior of the building, including the roof, walls, foundations, walks, driveways, parking areas, and the structural portion of the leased premises, in good condition and repair, except when damaged by tenant. Landlord warrants that the premises including the heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing, hot water heater, and electrical systems on the premises will be in compliance with all local building codes, in good working order, and that the roof will be free of leaks for the term of this lease[/U]. Tenant shall, at its expenses, maintain in good condition, the doors and interior of the premises, including electrical wiring and fixtures, plumbing, heating and air conditioning equipment presently in place or added by the Tenant or Landlord except when such damage is caused by the Landlord, its agents or employees."

    "If the Landlord shall fail, refuse or neglects to comply with Landlord's obligations in accordance with the terms of this lease, or if Tenant is required to make any repairs by reason of any act, omission or negligence of the Landlord or its employees or agents, Tenant shall have the right, at its option, to make such repairs on the behalf of and for the account of the Landlord and deduct the cost and expense thereof from the next installment(s) of rent due."

    The tenant claimed she has the right to replace the AC units with new one, because the old one was not in good working order.

    She said she was the property manager for the Landlord at the time and had her attorney drafted this lease agreement. She claimed this is how she interpreted the lease.

    My questions are:

    1. Am I responsible for the bill? I have trouble with the language that it did not spell out that Landlord is responsible for the repair/replace of the HVAC.
    2. Can she replace the new AC units without telling me first?

    Following are her email correspondences:

    Dear Mr. Tung,

    My air conditioner must be replaced at the Subway restaurant. Springfield Heating and Cooling put in the unit that has been there for the past10 years and has performed all the maintainence. We need the air conditioner to operate, so I told them to go ahead and replace it. The cost is a little over $4,000.00. Since it is my responsiblity to maintain the equipment and the Landlords to include the heating and air conditioning system, I will have Springfield Heating and Cooling send the bill to Tung properties 738 Kumukahi Place, honolulu, Hi 96825. If there is another address this needs to be sent to please let me know.

    I really need an 8 ton airconditioner not a 5 ton that came with the space. I, however, will pay for the additional 3 tons that I need for my restaurant.

    I tried to call the 808-395-7278 number but could not get through.

    Thanks for your attention to this matter.

    Lisa Downs

    Dear Mr. Tung,

    I have read the lease.

    The lease reads in Section Seven, as you have pointed out, that the Landlord warrants that the premises including the heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing, hot water heater, and electrical systems on the premises will be in compliance with all local building codes, in good working order, an...

    Tenant shall, at its expense, MAINTAIN in good condition....air conditioning equipment.

    I have maintained the equipment. It is the LANDLORD's responsibility to provide the air conditioning systems in good working order.

    I expect you to uphold your portion of the lease as I have faithfully done for the last 15 years!


    Lisa Downs

    I would really appreciated if you would let me know what you think of this matter.


  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    It is not clear....

    Did the tenant replace the air conditioner because it was broken and NEEDED to be replaced, or just because a larger air conditioner was desired?

    If the air conditioner was broken, as long as the bill that the tenant is sending you is a reasonable price to cover the cost of a comparable air conditioner, and the cost of installation, you are probably on the hook to pay it. That is assuming that the unit was not repairable. The tenant claims to have attempted to reach you by telephone regarding the matter, and given the nature of the space, a restaurant, it was a matter that needed to be addressed quickly. The tenant appears to be paying the extra amount that exceeds the value of the smaller unit replaced, so you are actually getting a discount on the deal.

    You should attempt to verify, if you do not already know, the condition of the old unit that was removed. Talk to the company that did the work and find out if it was operational and if it REQUIRED replacement. If it was required, you would have been paying for this anyway.

    Shop around a bit and see if the bill that is being sent to you is a reasonable price that compares with what you would have had to pay anyway. If the tenant is sending you a bill that is too much, offer to pay what you think is fair.

    In the end, if you can not agree, then a judge will decide how to split it. Just remember that you were only responsible for returning the rented space to the condition it was in when rented... you were not responsible for any improvements in the A/C just because the tenant wanted it.
  3. Gail_in_Georgia

    Gail_in_Georgia Moderator

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    Your tenant needs to give you a reasonable amount of time to address the need to repair/replace the air conditioning unit. You could, of course, argue that attempting one phone call is not reasonable time provided to deal with this.

    However, this rental unit is in Kentucky and you're living in Hawaii, correct? Is this person your actual property manager or simply your tenant for this commercial rental unit?


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