We represent landlords in all types of lease disputes including disputes relating to waste, fixtures and options. In that regard, we successfully represented the landlord at both the trial level and on appeal in the seminal reported California Court of Appeal decision regarding whether a lease option can expire on a Saturday. See Gans v. Smull (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 985.

Waste

Regardless of any contractual provision requiring the tenant to repair and maintain the premises and whether the premises are for residential or nonresidential use, the tenant must use ordinary care for the preservation of the leased premises, and he or she cannot commit waste (damage) to the premises. “Waste” constitutes a non-curable breach and grounds to terminate a tenancy upon three days written notice to quit (without any opportunity to cure).

Fixtures

Fixtures are items of personal property attached to realty in such a manner that they are deemed to become part of the realty. As a general rule, unless the lease otherwise provides, fixtures on rented premises belong to the landlord owner of the realty. Even if installed by the tenant, they become the landlord’s property at the end of the lease term. A tenant’s wrongful removal of fixtures gives the landlord a damages cause of action. Generally, the measure of damages is based on the value of the fixtures in place, as attached to the realty, not simply what the item would sell for on the open market if removed. In addition, the landlord may recover for any injury caused to the realty as a result of the removal.

Special Rule for Trade Fixtures

Absent express agreement otherwise, a tenant may remove at any time during the lease term anything affixed to the premises for purposes of trade, manufacture, ornament, or domestic use provided removal would not cause damage to the premises, unless the item, by reason of the manner in which it is affixed, has “become an integral part of the premises. Of course, a lease may provide otherwise.

Options

An option is a unilateral offer whereby a person receives consideration in exchange for the a promise not to revoke an offer. On the exercise of an option, there is a contract between the parties that obligates them to perform according to the terms of the option. Typical options include an option to purchase real property or an option to extend a lease.

Strict Compliance Required to Exercise Option To Renew Lease

Generally, to invoke an option to renew, the tenant must apprise the landlord in unequivocal terms of his or her unqualified intent to exercise the option, within the agreed upon time and in the manner and on the terms stated in the lease. Since the option binds the landlord, while the tenant is free to accept or reject it, courts hold the tenant to exact compliance with the option formalities stipulated in the lease.