Lease questions

Hello everyone!
I’ve been trying to work through a few issues we’re having and cannot seem to get any straight answers so maybe some of you might have suggestions…

The background story is my brother and I entered into a 2 year lease for a pizzeria last March and everything was going great until Oct. when a lady showed up one day asking who we were…? Turns out this lady was the property/building owner and the person we were renting from was illegally subleasing it to us without her knowledge… Long story short we came to an agreement with her to lease directly with her and she told the other guy he’s gone, (At this point his lease with her was month-month)

Since he owns the equipment we decided to purchase all new stuff and give him back the equipment he owns, One problem with this is he’s pissed off and wants to take everything in the place he put there including signage, ansul system, hoods etc. From what I understand and I could be wrong is anything attached to the building cannot be removed, Is this the case?

Thanks for your time!


You need to talk to a lawyer. In theory yes, at least in MO. Your mileage may vary greatly. Please don’t depend on advice from someone you don’t know, much less who has the specific knowledge of the law in your area.

It sounds like you have a decent relationship with the building owner–have you asked her?

And, would the previous tenant sell you the equipment, rather than change it all out? That may be another question for the lawyer, did he abandon the equipment and has no more rights to that property?

An illegal sublease, in some areas, is a big deal. In others, not so much.

Good luck with it, and please let us know what happens!

He wanted to sell me all the equipment but it’s not worth what he was asking so I went ahead and purchased everything new, The only sticking point is the Ansul system, Hood and roadside signage. He wants to sell me that stuff but if it’s to be considered part of the building then I would essentially be throwing money away…

I have a lawyer and he seems pretty confident the Ansul system, hood etc are part of the structure and cannot be removed however having to fight this in court will cost more money…

Good thing the landlord is reasonable!

Good thing you are talking to an attorney too.

Since you are subleasing, can I assume you have a copy of the original lease? What did it say with regard to subleasing? Did you and the previous tenant comply with the requirements of those provisions?

What does that previous document have to say about tenant improvements that are attached to the building? Do they become the property of the landlord upon lease termination? That is a pretty typical provision in a lease although it is not the only way something like a hood might be handled. That earlier document will govern those items.

If the previous tenant leased something to you that was not his to lease… well, your attorney will fill you in on that. In the mean time, the previous tenant does not have the right to enter your premises.

Suggestion for you:

Start thinking about a new name for your business. Be prepared to pay for a new sign and possibly for new hood etc.

Lesson for others:

NEVER enter into any kind of agreement to purchase or lease a business or to lease a premises without direct communication with the property owner! The tenant’s rights with regard to subleasing are generally spelled out in the lease. Having worked with many many leases I can tell you that I have NEVER seen one that did not require landlord approval for lease assignment or subleasing. Typically there will be a lease amendment recognizing the assignment or sublease that both you and the LL will be party to.

Is not the fight about these things between the previous tenant and the landlord?..You might be in a real bad spot if the landlord does not put up a fight…But you certainly need a lawyer…

That is pretty much what my lawyer said. The fight is between her and him but we obviously have a stake in the outcome which is why I wanted to get other opinions on the best course of action. I will have to go back and check the original lease between them to see what provisions are in it for improvements made.

The biggest problem with the lease between you and him will be the fact that is may not be lawful…