From MuskokaUnlimited.com: The Ugly side of Commercial Leases
This is just one of many stories we were told where business landlord and tenant agreements have vastly negative impacts on the tenants. This one we could verify all the facts and it was the most straight forward, so we are confident in telling it.
When one of Muskoka’s most beloved businesses closed shop this summer in Bracebridge, it was not due to a lack of support from the community or customers.
Rather, it was due to commercial rental rules – or perhaps a lack of them – that gave the building owners carte blanche to create unconscionable lease conditions, demand ridiculous amounts of money, and basically force out the long-standing tenants.
Footprints on Muskoka had been renting their Manitoba Street space for several years. Though they still have their flagship store in Gravenhurst and another spot in Orillia, their Bracebridge space was a very successful and popular destination.
And it abruptly closed in the summer when the landlords gave Footprints on Muskoka owner Krista Mansour notice in June that they would not longer be tenants.
The worst part is Mansour was sent scrambling at the beginning of July (high season in Muskoka) to find a spot for all her extra inventory and having to layoff employees just as they were getting ready to bounce back to strong sales after slower years due to the pandemic.
This notice and subsequent closure was the result of months of back-and-forth that started in January when the owners of the building sent Mansour a letter stating that she owed $10,000 in additional rent and that their new monthly additional rent would be $953 on top of their regular rent going forward.
“I called them and asked, ‘what is going on? Where did this come from?’” recalls Mansour. “We were month-to-month at that point, the people had bought the building a year ago, after our lease had ended … they didn’t say anything about a new lease.”