Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give up?

Right before christmas, my landlord told me that when my lease was up at the end of the month, that they would not me renewing it, and that I had approx 45 days to be moved out. Apparently one of the big chains, (not gonna say who) wanted my building. Landlord wouldnt even consider letting me match what they were gonna pay, just told me to be out by the first of feb. Felt like I got screwed bigtime because this store has been here for almost 18 years, and in the past 6 years that I owned it, I was never late on rent, or missed any payments.
After the initial panic, we found a place in a strip mall that had just been built about 3 years ago. When I tried to get a building permit to start the remodel, the building inspector told me that for him to approve the permit, I have to have blueprints from an licensed architect showing all diagrams of plumbing, electric, and structural stability of the building, and would have to have them sign off on the blueprints guaranteeing their accuracy. We have a person in our corprate office that does this type of work, and said to do what their asking, would take several months, and approx $10000-$12000 to do. He called the building inspector personally to find out what was needed because he said what he was requiring was way above the norm. I contaced my plumber and electrician, and they said that they have never seen that much requirment to get a building permit. I contacted that landlord to see if they had any old blueprints from an architect showing the structural stability of the mall, and to my surprise the landlord said that they wernt required to have any of that when they got their building permit to build the entire mall. I asked the architect it was normal to have to have a licensed architect do engineering blueprints for electric and plumbing, and he told me that it was pretty much unheard of unless your building something from the ground up. He flat out told me that it sounded like I was getting screwed.
So now Im sitting with a long term lease of 2k per month, no building permit, and starting to run out of money. If I have to wait a few months to get the permit, my funds will eventually start drying up and I wont be able to finish the remodel. As much as I hate to go this route, im considering hireing an attorney to sue the city. Not sure what I could sue for, but something is definatly not right with the situation.
Did I mention that I did try to talk to the city mayor about this and he told me he would “look into it” and had me shooshed out of his office in under one minute after I called and scheduled an appointment with him?
What you you folks do in my shoes?

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

Your best shot is to look into both leases for relief on the timing. Also, it should not be hard to get answers from the building department rather than from the inspector. It kind of sounds like the inspector is fi$hing for something.

Have an attorney review the lease for your current location especially the lease termination and holdover clauses. There is not a lot of hope there but it is worth a look.

Also, have a look through your new lease. The sections on possession, landlord’s work, and rent commencement may provide an out. Hopefully you had an attorney or an experienced leasing broker work with you when you signed it?

Are you incorporated? Did you sign a personal guarantee?

Why didn’t you address the upcoming end of your lease a year ago?

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

We were able to pay a “rush” fee to get our permit within 1 week, when we did our expansion… Otherwise it would have been months before our plans were reviewed… Call and see if that is an option…

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

I also suggest talking to another inspector… Hopefully there is more then one :wink:

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

My city required stamped blueprints for my entire buildout, including electric and plumbing. I know it’s not common, but that’s the way it was here. Your city may be the same way. The “structural stability” thing sounds really bizarre though, as I’m sure you’re not doing anything that affects the structure in anyway. It seems like that should come from the building owner.

Have you talked to any of the other tenants in this strip mall to see what was required of them?

I think $10-12k sounds awfully high even if you do need an architect. Build-out plans are pretty simple; my architect charged $2.00/sf for the plans.

Also, do you have an out in your lease for this type of thing? I was out of my lease if I couldn’t, after reasonable effort, secure a building permit within 90 days of receiving control of the space.

But the old saying “You can’t fight city hall” comes to mind. I don’t think you’ll get anywhere suing and it’s going to cost you a whole lot of money.

Now for the conspiracy theorist in me: There’s something weird going on with your landlord not interested in a matching offer, th city requiring much more of you than everybody else and the Mayor seeming uninterested in talking. Perhaps they don’t want any competition for their new chain? I’ve seen it happen in cities before. As a matter of fact, something very similar happened to me when planning my second location. Came to find out that one of the higher-ups in the city had a personal interest in not having a pizza competitor in the city.

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give


Your situation is not uncommon. We are encountering the same requirements in many areas of the country.

In the past, almost every where, the plans we do for a pizza shop were sufficient for the construction contractor to draw the necessary permits. Now in many places the building departments are requiring architects seals on plans. This takes a lot of responsibility off the building departments as architects guarantee their work and carry insurance against errors.

Fees do run up into the $10,000.00 range for architects to do set of plans for the typical deliver and carry out shop. The $2.00 per sq ft that Piper paid for plans was very fair.

One of the reasons many architects charge so much for a pizza shop plan is that most do not have extensive experience in food service facility design. Many architects, when they take on a food service project , hire a company such as ours to do the lay out and design, specify the equipment to be used, provide a plumbing and electrical rough in plan, furnish ventilation rough in plans, hood and fan specifications, make up air balance requirements and serve as consultants.

If we or some other company is providing the above services to an architectural company we charge for doing so.

The above is not to say architects do not do additional work on the plans. Also they have spent many years studying in order to have their architects seal and they pay substantial fees for there product liability insurance.

If we are dealing directly with the pizza operator we do not charge for the layout, design and equipment specification plans.

Further. if we are supplying a major portion of the equipment for the job we, at no charge, provide plumbing and electrical rough in plans, ventilation plans, hood and fan specifications, make up air balance requirements and serve as consultants to the architectural company and subsequent construction contractors.

Equipped with the plans we supply a pizza operator,usually, can then find an architect to do the additional work required and seal the plans for vastly less than if the architect themselves had to dig out all the information we supply or hire a consulting firm to do the food service related portion of the plans.

George Mills

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

Unfortunately this is becoming standard practice. I needed all this for my last 3 stores. I was told that you need the structural stability reports if you plan on putting anything on the roof. You didn’t mention anything about the wastewater treatment required. The WPCA or health department may require engineered plans, including flow calculations, for your grease trap. That cost me over 20,000, including the legal fees trying to fight (unsuccessfully) their unreasonable demands. Good luck to you.

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

when we were opening our other location 2 years ago we had to do the same thing. Our sealed prints were only about 500 bucks. call around. It literally took him no more than 2 weeks from start to finish. Go talk to the building inspector…he is there to help you. Be nice and explain the situation. While you are in his office you will see tons of prints…see who’s name is on them. That is how we found out who to call to do our plans. The architect’s name was on just about every plan in his office.

Don’t get discouraged…this may be just what an 18 year old business needs…new life. Whatever you do during your process make sure to keep your phone number.


Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

Just a lesson for all out there. have lots of option years so this can not happen to you. When my lease is up I have 6 3 year options. that should give me time to move. Good luck bull dog relax and think thru this

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

Just got of the phone with the building inspector again. Had to practically beg, but he agreed to issue a building permit with the floor plan I had originally submitted, so everything looks like it it going to work out ok. And yes, with my new lease I did have a renewel option of two, three year extensions so this shouldnt happen again. Unfortunatly, Im one of those people that learn most lessons the hard way.


Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

Hi bulldog:

Glad to hear things worked out for you.

George Mills

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

NBD - TG…Hang in there:)

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

give em hell bd good luck glad to hear the good news

Re: Do I have a legal leg to stand on, or should I just give

I’m glad to see you back NBD. We missed your bulldog marketing and look forward to what you do to the pour suckers who took your old location.

But I must request that you put some clothes on :).