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Tobin O'Conner & Ewing Practicality in Practice
  • ~ Washington DC Business Law Attorneys ~

Bowling Alley And Landlord Battle Over Mold Infestation Resulting From Storm Damage

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The worst thing about living with roommates is having to argue about whose responsibility it is to clean up messes in shared living areas such as the kitchen.  Multiply this problem hundreds of times over, and you will get an idea of how annoying it is for business owners and commercial landlords to resolve disputes about paying for maintenance to the rented property.  Meanwhile, the longer the damage persists, the harder it is for the business to operate normally, so both the business and the landlord lose money.  Small businesses have enough problems to deal with as the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year; you should not have to deal with your landlord’s refusal to make needed repairs to the property.  For help resolving this and other disputes between landlords and commercial tenants, contact a Washington DC small business lawyer.

The White Oak Duckpin Lanes Saga

For George Sloan, buying White Oak Duckpin Lanes in Colesville was a labor of love.  He had worked at the bowling alley for 15 years before buying it from the previous owner in 2018; his parents cosigned a loan with him to help their son with the purchase amount.  White Oak Duckpin Lanes has been a community hangout in Montgomery County since 1959 and is the site of bowling league practices, birthday parties, and late-night cosmic bowling.  Recreational venues like bowling alleys were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but White Oak weathered the storm, with Sloan continuing to make rent payments to BF Saul/Saul Centers, the landlord that owns the New Hampshire Avenue shopping center where the bowling alley is located, and eventually White Oak Duckpin Lanes and the bowlers returned.

On Labor Day weekend, 2021, Tropical Depression Ida dumped rain on southern Maryland, and the bowling alley flooded.  Sloan called the insurance company, but they denied the claim, saying that since the water was coming from the floor, they should take the issue up with the landlord.  They could not reach the landlord on the holiday weekend, so the employees of the bowling alley and their friends did everything they could to remove the flood waters.  Despite their efforts, mold began to grow in the walls.

The dispute between the bowling alley and the landlord became more complex when the parties discovered that there was a sump pit in the basement but no sump pit.  In nearly two decades working at the bowling alley, Sloan had never known about the sump pit, since it was covered in metal and bolted shut.  The landlord alleges that it was Sloan’s responsibility to install a sump pump, but neither previous owner nor a man who owned the bowling alley in the 1970s knew that the sump pit existed until recently.  Meanwhile, the bowling alley has turned to crowdfunding to cover its expenses while the dispute is pending.

Contact Us About Disputes Between Landlords and Commercial Tenants

A small business lawyer can help you build a strong case in a dispute against the owner of the building where your business operates.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing for a consultation.

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