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Small business calling on province for change after being told to leave WEM a year into five year lease

A local business at West Edmonton Mall was given 60 days notice to relocate her store. Laura Krause speaks to the owner who started a petition to demand change that protect both tenants and commercial landlords.

After signing a five year lease, just last year — and spending thousands of dollars in renovations — Rain Clothing, a tenant at West Edmonton Mall says they were given 60 day notice to leave their space. Marking the fourth time since 2020.

“We’ve been in three spaces in this mall in three years,” explained Nylla Moroziuk, owner of Rain Clothing & Fashion Accessories Inc. “Every time we have to move we lose a lot of customers who think we shut down.”

Moroziuk says she was able to negotiate a 60 day notice in her lease, instead of the standard 30 days, to give her more time to find a new location. She says a larger chain business will be taking over the space, and the two stores next door.

Moroziuk has since started a petition. She says the lack of regulations for commercial leasing in our province is leaving tenants vulnerable to commercial landlords.

The petition is calling on the province to establish a Commercial Leasing Act and Regulatory Board in Alberta to protect both tenants and commercial landlords

“There is no store in any mall that could give 30 days notice because they want to leave, we’d have to buy out the rest of our lease. So the practices are unfair and they benefit the bigger guys when they can come in and offer more for a space than small businesses can, and we think it is time for fair treatment for small businesses,” said Moroziuk.

“I’m confident we have established ourselves enough as a business that we can recover, but there are many businesses out there, particular newer businesses within the last 5 years who don’t have that luxury, who don’t have that following, so they are at the mercy of these commercial landlords, without the ability to speak up. Because speaking up means that they could lose everything.”

CityNews reached out to West Edmonton Mall for details about clauses in their leases that allow them to terminate tenants with short notice.

Our questions not directly answered, but a spokesperson said, “The tenancies in question voluntary entered into short term leases, oftentimes at minimal entry and capital expense, occupying fully fixtured spaces at lower rents because of the short duration of term.”

Adding, “The primary beneficiary of short term leases is small businesses who oftentimes do not want to be burdened with long term lease obligations or high entry costs.”

For Moroziuk, she says Rain Clothing isn’t going anywhere.

“Ideally we would love to stay in West Edmonton Mall, we built a home. If that’s not a possibility then we will seek accommodations elsewhere.”

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