Commercial Lease Enforcement, Disputes and Litigation

Contact Neufeld Legal PC for commercial leasing legal matters at 403-400-4092 / 905-616-8864 or


The objective of every lease arrangement is a mutually-beneficial landlord-tenant relationship, where the landlord / owner receives a fair return on its investment in the property and the tenant receives the best value for its rental payments, including all the services promised under the lease agreement. Unfortunately, business operations do divert from negotiated arrangements, which requires immediate attention and resolution, so as to avoid a minor issue becoming a major problem. This is particularly true in a landlord / tenant (lessor/lessee) situation, since a cooperative long-term business relationship is far better than an adversarial relationship, which imposes a financial and legal burden on all parties and forces the attainment of new leasing parties and replacement leases.

Nevertheless, during the course of many leasing arrangements, parties will fail to meet their contractual obligations under the lease agreement. It is at these times that you need to protect your business interests and attain the best solution moving forward; this applies both to the party that has breached the lease agreement and the other party that has been adversely impacted by the breach. By understanding your legal rights and remedies, a better resolution of this situation can be achieved.


Commercial leases are invariably subject to disputes and differences of opinion, and the question is how do you handle these matters to minimize the disruption and cost to your business and, where possible, salvage your current landlord-tenant / lessor-lessee relationship. Though the objective is to resolve the dispute through intelligent negotiation; yet when the parties become entrenched it their respective positions (often out of necessity), litigation can become the only path to dispute resolution, whether it is through the courts, mediation or alternative dispute resolution.

Although the most common cause of tensions between landlord and tenant arises from the tenant defaulting on its payment obligations, disputes arise from countless other violations of the lease agreement, including:

- delayed possession in receiving the leased premises

- failure to satisfy specifics promised in the lease agreement

- right to quiet enjoyment

- restrictive covenants and specific use

- responsibilities with respect to common areas

- maintenance, repairs and replacements

- validity of charges and additional rents

- fixtures and leasehold improvements

- subletting and assignment (including corporate tax planning)

- mortgagees, co-tenants and other third party rights

- guarantees, surety and indemnity

- bankruptcy restructuring and insolvency

- third party injuries and lawsuits

- insurance and costs related to structural damage

- environmental violations

- by-law and regulatory infringement

- obligations upon termination


Unresolved commercial lease disputes that move to court litigation can be particularly challenging for business tenants / lessees, given that the landlords / lessors tend to have considerably more financial resources to fund the legal costs associated with battling out the dispute in court.

When representing tenants / lessees, default and other rent-related court proceedings are far too often bottomless money pits with little hope of success, for the stark reality is that lease agreements are drafted to grossly favour the landlord / lessor, that litigaton is a further drain on one's finances, given how strict the lease agreements tend to be and the sizeable legal fees associated with protracted litigation in court proceedings. When the litigation is not rent related, but resulting from a breach of the other terms of the lease agreement, the prospects of litigation can prove significantly better, yet as always much will be dependent upon the actual facts at issue and the extent to which the landlord / lessor wishes to pursue the litigation (whether they are asserting a breach against the tenant / lessee or they are defending themselves against a purported breach).

When representing landlords / lessors in court litigation, the challenge is not merely about getting a positive verdict from the court, but optimizing one's recovery from the default or breach of the tenant / lessee and thereby minimizing the financial losses that arise from such scenarios. For when a landlord or lessor goes to court, it tends to be a damage control scenario, from which they is little positive to be gained, other than putting the particular matter behind oneself and moving forward.

*With limited exceptions, enforcement, dispute and litigation work is exclusively undertaken in Southern Alberta.

For knowledgeable and experienced legal representation in negotiating, reviewing and drafting lease agreements, and protecting your business’ legal rights thereunder, contact lease lawyer Christopher Neufeld at 403-400-4092 [Alberta], 905-616-8864 [Ontario] or

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