In a ground breaking ruling on Wednesday Madam Justice Wailan Low granted an injunction preventing The Real Jerk from being evicted by the end of January. This decision came as a massive relief to The Real Jerk owners; Ed and Lily Pottinger.
Their building was sold to a new owner; Bill Mandelbaum. Upon taking ownership of the site, Mandelbaum gave the Pottingers a mere 30 days to vacate the premises to make way for a new Irish Pub to be opened by two other local entrepreneurs; Rick Aulier and Scott Brockington. Apparently the Pottingers didn’t have a proper lease in place that protected them from this type of eviction and were shocked to learn they only had 30 days to find a new site after being a Queen and Broadview fixture for 27 years.
This news spread through the local media and eventually made it to the evening news. Turns out that everyone loved The Real Jerk and was willing to do anything to stand up for what they believed was a massive injustice. Local Twitter users sent messages of support to The Real Jerk, local Facebook pages and groups were flooded with “How dare the greedy landlord do this!” “This is what’s wrong with society” and so on. So what about the landlord’s right to collect fair market value? The Real Jerk was paying $6300/mth for this prime space at Queen and Broadview, the new tenants had agreed to pay $12,000/mth. Just to help you out with the math, that’s a $5,700/mth difference.
Once the dust settled Thursday morning here is what we’re left with. The Pottingers now have a full month to arrange a new lease with the landlord including current market value plus other terms Mandelbaum will likely insist upon. Failing this, the Pottingers will have their rent increased to $12,000/mth on March 1, 2012 and will have up to a year to find a new place to open their beloved restaurant. My guess is that the Pottingers will want out ASAP and find another local spot to open up. Rick Aulier and Scott Brockington, who planned on opening their Irish Pub by St. Patrick’s Day are out of luck unfortunately. They must wait until the space becomes vacant.
My question is; What did Madam Justice Wailan Low base her decision on? Bill Mandelbaum provided hard evidence that the Pottingers had signed a simple month to month lease that left them vulnerable to a 30 day notice for eviction and the Pottingers did not bring a shred of evidence to the table to dispute this. Their sole argument was that Mandelbaum was being unethical and they needed more time to find a new location. I guess the outpouring of support from the community and morality trumped the law in this case. A dangerous precedent has been set by Madam Justice Wailan Low in my opinion but certainly a popular one with locals.
What’s the moral of this story? OWN YOUR LOCATION (or a least ensure your lease provides an adequate notice period)! The goal of all businesses should be to own your location as soon as possible. This is not simply a ploy to sell you real estate (although we’re really good at it so if you’re in the market, give us a call!). If you own your location, you have control. Plain and simple.