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Feature article

Kalde & Associates


I did my own legal work. Please help me!

A while ago I wrote about how ‘doing it yourself’ has become popular in law, thanks to the internet. Then I met a new client who had done just that. He had put a commercial lease in place for himself. He had done his own legal work. He had read the lease, liaised with the Landlord’s solicitor (who was wise enough to engage a solicitor to do his end of the work). He had signed the Lease and sent it back. Now a few months had passed and he was wondering why the Lease hadn’t been registered. He didn’t even have a copy of the Lease with the Landlord’s signature on it. He hadn’t heard anything further from the Landlord’s solicitor, who had stopped returning his calls. He came to me for advice about why he was being ignored and why his lease wasn’t registered.

After examining the documents I was able to give him the answer: The landlord had not registered the Lease because he didn’t have to. The law didn’t require it. So he didn’t bother. It didn’t affect the Landlord one way or the other. The Landlord was still entitled to his rent .He had a signed Lease from his Tenant. No problem for the Landlord. The Landlord then put the property up for sale. This created a problem for the tenant.

Because the lease wasn’t registered, it didn’t create an interest in land. As there was no interest in land, the new owner did not have to abide by the Lease. To the tenant, his lease wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.  Naturally he panicked, until I suggested a solution. Fortunately there was something we could do for this tenant to protect his interest. We did what we would have done had he come to us in the first place. He had missed an important step. My client’s position is now safe.

The moral of the story? Legal work is harder than it looks. The ‘take away’ from this story:

  • Legal work may seem easy.
  • It  is tempting to do it yourself and save a little money.
  • You may miss a critically important step without knowing it.
  • There can be unexpected consequences.
  • It pays to get a professional to check your work.
  • The consequences may not be immediate. (My client would only suffer once the property sold. By then it would be too late).
  • Don’t wait for something to happen before getting help. It may already be too late.

My client was lucky to realise his mistake before it was too late. Had his landlord sold the property before we intervened, he could well have found himself out on the street looking for new premises.  Now he still has his premises, and can sleep at night.

Eric Kalde

Kalde & Associates

Commercial Lawyers

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