Lease of building on Galveston's Strand ends in litigation

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Dec. 12, 2011, 10:14am

The Strand, Galveston

GALVESTON - Galveston resident John Glenn claims Houston business owner William Ray Simpson wrongfully evicted him from a building in the city's historic Strand District, recent court documents say.

A lawsuit filed Nov. 23 in Galveston County Court at Law No. 3 alleges Simpson lied to Glenn about the property's permissibility as a business and a residence. A legal fight ensued, resulting in the plaintiff's eviction.

Both parties entered into a building lease for the structure located in the 2400 block of The Strand in December 2008.

The agreement, which was to last 36 months -- from Jan. 1, 2009, to Jan. 1, 2012 -- "contained the provision that the landlord has the option to raise the rent amount 10 percent per year after three years."

The agreement "clearly intended that plaintiff Glenn would have an option to extend the term of the lease for an additional three years," the suit says.

Though the option to renew is not included in the lease agreement, there was "the subject of verbal understanding" in the form of a handwritten notation, the plaintiff alleges.

Glenn further explains Simpson informed him that the building was zoned and suitable for use as a restaurant, bar and club, while its loft area provided living quarters. However, Glenn claims he learned in September 2009 from the city of Galveston the building lacked a sprinkler system and other fixtures required by the Galveston City Building Codes.

He also was told he could not live in the building and had his electricity disconnected, the suit says.

According to the original petition, Glenn spent $150,000 to make improvements to the property and was unsuccessful in his attempt to obtain city approval needed to complete the modifications.

The plaintiff asserts he notified Simpson about "these issues" and demanded he terminate the lease and refund the rentals of $3,750 per month to no avail. Glenn then stopped paying rent.

In response, Simpson sued Glenn in a Galveston County court over the failure to pay rent in October 2009 and was awarded judgment in his favor a month later.

Meanwhile, Glenn was forced out of the premises.

He is seeking monetary damages of at least $150,000.

He is representing himself in the case, and Galveston County Court at Law No. 3 Judge Christopher Dupuy is presiding over the litigation.

Cause No. 66,420

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