Get Right to Remove Tenants’ Signs Temporarily During Construction Work
Disputes are apt to arise when temporarily covering or removing a tenant’s storefront sign becomes necessary for the landlord to carry out building work. Tenants have an obvious interest in keeping their signage clear, visible, and unobstructed by scaffolding and such, especially during business hours. But landlords have an equally legitimate need to do what must be done to make necessary repairs, renovations, and improvements. The good news is that you can reconcile these interests fairly and head off disputes by specifically addressing temporary signage removal in your lease.
How Signage Disputes Arise
While most leases allow owners to carry out repair, remodeling, and renovation work, they often fail to address how the work affects the tenant’s storefront signs. And because the tenant’s right to display such signs without hindrance is part of the lease, removing or covering the sign during building work becomes a potential lease violation. In addition to holding up the work, tenant protests may lead to costly litigation and legal settlements.
The risk exists even if the lease doesn’t specifically grant a tenant signage rights. An Ohio attorney relates the tale of the shopping center landlord that erected scaffolding during remodeling work. Although vital to the work, the scaffolding covered the storefront sign of a prominent national tenant for several weeks. The tenant complained bitterly about losing thousands of dollars a day as a result. Luckily, the sides settled without the tenant’s suing to recover its business losses. And while it stayed in the shopping center, the tenant insisted on including strict guarantees of sign visibility in all of its future leases.
Spell Out Landlord’s Signage Removal Rights
These kinds of disputes are relatively easy to avoid by inserting a lease clause that spells out the rights and duties of each party during building work involving temporary sign removal or obstruction. Your lease clause, like our Model Lease Clause: Clarify Landlord’s Rights to Remove Tenant Signage for Building Work, should use a balanced approach that’s fair to both sides.
For landlords, the key provision is the right to remove the tenant’s storefront sign to repair, remodel, or expand the building. Since the landlord is the one that wants the sign removed, it’s only fair to make it responsible for its care during the work. Specifically, the clause requires the landlord to:
- Remove (or cover) the sign in a careful manner without damaging it;
- Store it in an appropriate facility;
- Restore the sign to its original location (or remove the obstructions) after the work is done; and
- Accept responsibility for any damage done to the sign caused by the way it was obstructed, removed, stored, or returned [Clause, par. a].
Your clause should also compensate the tenant for the inconvenience of having its sign removed or obstructed by requiring the landlord to erect a temporary sign at its own expense. But such a measure should be provided only for longer lasting projects, the exact extent of which should be negotiated by the parties and specified in the lease—for example, seven days. The last thing you want to do is agree to erect temporary signs for shorter projects.
The lease should also specify that the temporary sign must be similar in size and style to the sign it’s replacing to preserve the tenant’s advertising, name recognition, and goodwill interests. The sign should also be placed as close as possible to the original sign or other reasonable location to maximize its visibility [Clause, par. b].
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Clarify Landlord's Rights to Remove Tenant Signage for Building Work|