A commercial real estate dispute can involve complicated contracts and confusing laws that can be difficult for anyone to understand. If you become involved in a dispute over commercial real estate, you will need the advice and services of an Ontario commercial real estate lawyer.
What are the common types of disputes that involve commercial real estate and commercial real estate transactions? How will a commercial real estate lawyer protect your legal rights and long-term best interests? When should you contact a Toronto commercial real estate lawyer?
If you will keep reading this brief discussion about the work of real estate lawyers, those questions will be answered, but if you are directly involved in a commercial property transaction, you also need the personalized advice that an Ontario commercial real estate lawyer provides.
What Should You Know About Commercial Properties?
Real estate laws set the legal standards for the sale and purchase of commercial real estate and for commercial leases.
Commercial property is also associated with legal issues that include:
- Zoning: Commercial activity may only happen on commercial property in commercial zones. Local governments determine how commercial properties may be used and what may be built in commercial zones.
- Leasing: With “fixed” leases, parties settle on a specific rent amount for a fixed period of time. A “step” lease entails yearly rent increases. With “gross” leases, landlords pay the property taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs, and maintenance.
- Taxes: Commercial property taxes are typically higher than residential property taxes.
- Insurance: Commercial property insurance usually covers the property along with fixtures and items needed for conducting business. By having a lawyer review the property insurance contract, most property insurance disputes are avoidable.
- Property lines: Boundary and title disputes are rare in the 21st century due to improved maintenance of records, but a dispute may emerge if the description of the property in the deed lacks specificity.
Because legal issues invariably emerge in real estate transactions, anyone who is involved in leasing, buying, or selling commercial property in or near the Toronto area will need the insights and advice of a commercial real estate lawyer.
What Can Affect a Commercial Property Transaction?
Anyone who sells or purchases a commercial property in Ontario needs to know about these considerations that may affect the transaction:
- The seller’s knowledge of material defects: Sellers are required to disclose to buyers any known defects with a property. It is unlawful for a seller intentionally to conceal a known defect with a commercial property in order to sell that property.
- A buyer’s responsibility to inspect: Before making a commercial real estate purchase, the buyer must arrange for a certified or licensed property inspector to inspect the property. A seller usually is not held liable for a defect if that seller was unaware of the defect.
- Encumbrances: Encumbrances are claims against a commercial property that may affect the property’s title. Encumbrances can restrict a property owner’s rights and may include liens, easements, deed restrictions, and encroachments.
- Zoning and environmental matters: A number of zoning and environmental concerns affect almost all commercial properties in Ontario.
Any of these four factors could impact your business or even put its future at risk. Commercial real estate disputes often trigger a time-consuming litigation process that will require you to have the services of an astute, knowledgeable real estate lawyer. If a real estate dispute cannot be resolved in arbitration or private negotiations, taking the case to court may be your only option.
What Should You Know About Leasing Commercial Real Estate?
If you are leasing a commercial property, you may have some further concerns. It is quite difficult to revise or break a commercial lease in Ontario, so before signing one, have it examined by a Toronto commercial real estate lawyer.
Also, before you lease a commercial property, make certain that your lease will satisfy the needs of your business. If your operation requires making changes to a property, be certain that either you or the property’s owner can and will make those changes.
The issues that affect any particular property will inevitably involve extensive paperwork and documentation. If any legal matter arises regarding a specific property, gather all of the pertinent documents and papers, and speak about the matter at once with a real estate lawyer.
When is It Right to Take Legal Action?
A number of circumstances may arise during a commercial real estate transaction that might require you to take legal action, including:
- Real estate fraud, when a seller misrepresents the condition or legal status of the property.
- Breach of contract, when one of the parties breaks the terms of a written agreement.
What Will a Real Estate Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?
Unexpected disagreements may arise at any time when you negotiate a real estate transaction and even after a deal has been finalized. Consulting in advance with a real estate lawyer regarding your concerns can reduce your long-term costs and help you avoid legal problems in the future.
Most commercial property disputes involve multiple parties – tenants, owners, investors, real estate agents, and insurance carriers – and may require extensive legal research and considerable amounts of time. The financial stakes can be high, and the rules are exceedingly complicated.
If you become involved – or anticipate becoming involved – in a commercial property dispute in Ontario, take these steps:
- Keep records of documents, text messages, emails, or anything else that may be pertinent.
- Consult a real estate lawyer for advice regarding your options.
Will Your Real Estate Dispute End Up in Court?
Going to court is not always necessary to resolve a real estate dispute. Most real estate lawyers will suggest seeking a resolution through arbitration, mediation, or through private negotiations. In some cases, a lease or a buy-sell agreement may require either arbitration or mediation.
Avoiding court is usually in everyone’s best interests, but if a property dispute cannot be resolved in any other way, a court will resolve it. You will need a Toronto lawyer who is skilled and experienced in commercial real estate law, arbitration, mediation, and litigation.
When you buy or sell commercial property in Ontario, always have a knowledgeable, neutral third party review all of the documents that are involved in your real estate transaction – an Ontario lawyer who will protect your rights and your long-term best interests.