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Landlord and tenant dispute could close popular LA taco stand

For 51 years, people throughout Los Angeles have enjoyed the food from Henry's Tacos in Studio City. The impending closure of the popular taco stand has raised public outcry, and the dispute appears to center on land-use issues regarding commercial real estate. In particular, let's think about historical monument designation and disputes between tenants and landlords.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, last year the owner of Henry's Tacos filed an application for historical monument status. Since then, she says, her landlord increased rent by 50 percent and would not renew the lease. The owner claims the landlord didn't want to deal with the land-use restrictions that would come with the historical designation.

The application for Henry's Tacos to become a local landmark was approved, but the city's Cultural Heritage Commission put off a vote on the designation until the landlord renewed the lease. That option appears not to be on the table anymore, so the owner of Henry's Tacos decided to sell.

However, the landlord has turned down a number of possible buyers lined up by the owner. It would appear the landlord wants to use the property as he wishes, rather than have a tenant determine the use of the real estate.

Still, celebrities and others in the community recently lined up outside of Henry's Tacos to show support for the business. Those who turned out were protesting its closure, but it remains to be seen how those efforts will affect any legal battle that may ensue.

Business owners in Los Angeles need to be aware of their options for either preventing or settling a dispute. Many landlords don't want to deal with the restrictions that attach to historical landmark status, but neither do landlords have the right to break the terms of a lease agreement or take unwarranted measures to hurt a business.

If you would like to learn more about real estate negotiations and, in particular, disputes between tenants and landlords, please stop by our real estate litigation site. Our firm handles issues like the ones described here.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "A tortilla flap over whether Henry's Tacos folds," Ben Poston, Dec. 20, 2012

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