My question involves business law in the state of: Ohio
I signed a lease in May of last year to operate a Verizon retail store out of a rental property. Initially everything on the Verizon front was a go, according to the person handling my account with them. So I proceeded to stock the store with merchandise, signage, etc etc. I was then informed, after months of delay, that due to territorial restrictions I would not be able to open in the location I was currently in. Of course, this was AFTER I signed a 3 year commercial lease. Given that this was obviously my primary source of income, and reasoning behind opening the store in the first place, I was in a bit of a situation. I continued to pay the rent, and decided to try to make the situation work by offering computer repair and other various services in the unit. This was not very effective, and after paying rent and utilities in the unit for months with absolutely zero income, I ran out of money.
I paid the November 2008 rent, and then did not pay afterward. I informed the landlord of the situation, and he seemed willing to work with me on the situation. I was trying to secure additional funding from family and other sources at the time. At the end of December the landlord abruptly informed me that they were destroying all of my property and locking the unit. I went there to find myself completely locked away from my property, with no way to access it. I emailed the landlord asking for additional information, and he said it was because he had not heard from me lately. I told him that I was still trying to turn this situation into a viable business venture and keep my obligations for the 3 year lease. He said he "believed in what I was doing" (I'm 24 years old, and this was my entire life savings) and that he would continue to work with me. He said that the unit would remain locked until I was able to catch up and figure everything out, which was fine with me, as I thought my property would be safe. I also had NO access to my mail or any other things at that time, which was inconvenient.
Within a month everything DISAPPEARED my from store. No phone call, no email, no official notices, NOTHING. Just gone. About $15,000 dollars worth of merchandise, server and computer equipment, financial documents, furniture and everything you can think of. He claims that there are no notices or anything that has to be posted or done in a commercial lease. Is this true? Can he just lock me out, hold my property, and do what he pleases with it whenever he feels like it?
If it matters, the place was absolutely NOT fit for business. When I first moved in, it was gorgeous and newly remodeled. EVERY single time it rained, the entire place flooded, all of my merchandise got wet, there was black mold, wall switches were wet and dangerous, and he NEVER fixed the problem despite me asking many times and my things being water damaged on more than one occasion. I'm planning to sue him, but of course he would probably counter sue for 2 years worth of rent. Does it matter that the lease was with my corporation, and not me personally, and that the equipment and other stuff was owned by me personally? I don't know what to do..I've basically lost everything that I ever had and worked for my entire life. Help!