Wingtip Gets Booted at Last
by Ron Davis
An apparent loophole in California law almost allowed a tenant of a Bay area shopping center to stay in business despite failure to pay rent for more than a year.
The shopping center had leased space to Levitz Furniture Co. of the Pacific, Inc., which had in turn sublet to Wingtip Communications, Inc. And the law that governs rent payments came into focus when Wingtip ran into financial difficulties and stopped paying rent.
Levitz waited for a year before taking any legal action to seek the rent payments and evict Wingtip. Then when Levitz finally sued, it demanded not only the rent that was due for the past 12 months, but also a single rental amount that Wingtip has missed paying 18 months previously.
Under California law, however, a landlord must serve an eviction notice within one year after the rent becomes due. If the landlord waits more than a year to sue for unpaid rent, he or she is limited to collecting such rent in a standard breach of contract lawsuit. The result: a money judgment but no eviction.