Property Keyed to Saxer
Reldresal v. Bolgolam
Reldresal (Plaintiff) owns property in the town of Belfaborac. On March 15, 1997, Plaintiff entered a ten-year lease with Bolgolam (Defendant). The terms of the lease did not indicate the purpose for which Defendant would use the property, but Defendant intended to open a bar and restaurant in the building. Plaintiff was not only aware of his intent, but also assisted Defendant in renovating the building for use as a bar and restaurant. Plaintiff’s property, however, was located in an area of Belfaborac in which commercial use of property was prohibited by Belfaborac ordinance. The ordinance provided for variances, by which an owner could escape the ordinance upon showing a special hardship if it were strictly enforced. Defendant did not apply for a variance. But officials were lax about enforcing the ordinance, and Defendant proceeded to open the bar and restaurant without problems. Once in business, the bar produced most of Defendant’s large profit margin, although it only took up a small portion of the property. In November 1998, the county voted to enact a new ordinance prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages over four percent alcohol. This ordinance was strictly enforced, and, as a result, Defendant was unable to sell spirits and wines, causing his profits to decrease sharply. Once patrons could no longer order these drinks with their meals, restaurant sales dropped as well. Defendant was eventually forced to downsize his staff and let his chef go. The resulting decline in quality of service and food eventually forced Defendant to close the restaurant and bar. When he failed to pay rent, Plaintiff sued to recover rental payments in March 1999. Defendant argued that the lease was not valid when executed and that, in the alternative, supervening events made the lease illegal and unenforceable. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff.
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