Civil Remedies and the Commercial Lease

Laying Down the Law

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Christopher J. Charles, Esq.
Founder, Provident Law


Just like the ancient feudal lords, commercial landlords today have considerable rights and remedies if a tenant defaults. Two chief examples include the non-judicial lockout and pre-judgment provisional remedies. Fortunately, provisional remedies are rarely needed because the mere threat of enforcement generally accomplishes the landlord’s goals.

Commercial Lockout
Unlike residential lease scenarios, in many cases, commercial landlords can typically evict the tenant without going to court. Indeed, in most cases a commercial landlord can perform a non-judicial lockout and effectively evict its tenant without a court order as long as the “lockout” does not breach the peace. This typically requires written notice to the tenant and extreme caution: although a lockout is generally quick and relatively painless, locking out a tenant from its business creates potential pitfalls and may expose the landlord to liability for wrongful attachment or trespass. Also, the landlord should first confirm with its attorney whether the commercial lease provides the landlord with the express right to perform the non-judicial lockout in the event of default.

In addition, a commercial lockout is the death knell to any business. Thus, this remedy should be reserved for those cases where the landlord is confident that there is no hope of salvaging the landlord/tenant relationship.

Provisional Remedies
The American judicial system is the best in the world – but it isn’t perfect. One of its flaws is the delay that some claimants face when seeking a judgment. Claimants generally must wait six to twelve months before obtaining a judgment in a run-of-the-mill breach of contract action. But in many cases, commercial landlords have the unique ability to attach a tenant’s assets immediately in the event of a breach of the lease. For instance, the provisional remedies statutes authorize the creditor to seize the debtor’s assets “for the purpose of securing satisfaction of the judgment ultimately to be entered.” Rule 64, ARIZONA RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE; see also A.R.S. §§ 12-1521 and 12-2402(A). Thus, if the Court grants the provisional remedy, then the creditor can immediately move to garnish and attach all non-exempt assets to satisfy the money owed, including anticipated attorneys’ fees and costs. (Non-exempt assets include real property, cars, boats, ATVs, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, precious metals, jewelry, etc.)


Mr. Charles regularly represents landlords and tenants concerning leasing matters. If you or someone you know has questions regarding a lease, please call or email today to speak with Mr. Charles.



Christopher J. Charles is the founder and Managing Partner of Provident Law®. He is a State Bar Certified Real Estate Specialist and a former “Broker Hotline Attorney” for the Arizona Association of REALTORS® (the “AAR”). Mr. Charles holds the AV® Preeminent Rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system which connotes the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. He serves as an Arbitrator and Mediator for the AAR regarding real estate disputes; and he served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Civil Jury Instructions Committee where he helped draft the Agency Instructions and the Residential Landlord/Tenant Eviction Jury Instructions.
Christopher is a licensed real estate instructor and he teaches continuing education classes at the Arizona School of Real Estate & Business. He can be reached at or at 480-388-3343.