Commercial Real Estate Law in Pennsylvania
Commercial real estate is any type of land or structure in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania which is used for business purposes, primarily the sale of goods and/or services to the public.
The laws in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania which control commercial real estate differ substantially from the laws governing the rental and purchase of residential real estate.
Buyers and renters of residential property enjoy some pretty considerable legal protections, because the law of most states presumes that shelter (being necessary to survive, for the most part) is more important than business. Therefore, many of these consumer protections don't apply to commercial real estate.
For example, commercial real estate normally isn't covered by rent control laws, nor does it carry with it an implied warranty of habitability (because people typically won't be living in it). Furthermore, it also doesn't come with a covenant of quiet enjoyment. However, some of the most basic legal protections (such as laws against fraud, and concealment of defects) apply in both the commercial and residential context.
Common Commercial Real Estate Law Issues in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
Financing: The majority of small business owners in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania probably can't afford to buy much real estate outright, with cash paid up front, so most small business purchase commercial real estate with a mortgage. A mortgage is a loan taken out for the purpose of buying real estate, using that real estate as collateral for the loan.
Duty to Disclose Defects: It is of the utmost importance that sellers and lessors of commercial real estate be up front about any defects that might be present in the property. Failing to disclose them can be bad, and actively concealing them can be much worse. In general, if a defect is serious enough that it would influence a reasonable person's decision to buy a piece of property, and the seller knows about it, the seller should disclose it. Failure to disclose can have serious outcomes. If the buyer later discovers the defect, they can sue for the cost of repairing it, or for any reduction in the property's value caused by it. And, of course, if it causes any injuries, the buyer can sue the seller for those, as well.
Duty to Inspect: Lest you believe that the duty to disclose defects relieves any duty of diligence on the part of the buyer, the law will not reward such lapses with a major cause of action. Buyers have a duty to conduct a reasonable inspection of the property before they buy it, normallyy with a licensed building inspector. If the buyer fails to do this, they won't be able to recover any damages for defects which they could have discovered through a reasonable inspection.
Encumbrances: Encumbrances are defects of a different type: rather than physical defects, they are defects of title. In Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, an encumbrance is an interest in a piece of real estate held by a third party, such as covenants or easements. An easement is a right held by someone to use the property of someone else for a particular purpose. For example, a person might have an easement on the land of another person, allowing them to cross the land to access a public road.
Can a Lehigh County, Pennsylvania Attorney Help?
These issues can be very complicated, and most people consider such financially-weighty decisions to be very crucial. If you are one of those people, it's a smart move to contact a Lehigh County, Pennsylvania real estate attorney if you are facing any of the issues discussed above.