Legal Question in Business Law in California

Our business used to have the exclusivity to wash cars at a shopping center (mainly for office tenants). Recently we decided to leave because of new management rules we didn't like, and soon after that they hired a different car wash company.

We have had some requests to wash cars for some of the tenants lately, and so we've been taking the cars from the shopping center to an entirely different property to wash them, after which we return them.

Just now one of the management office guys basically told me that this is private property and we no longer have their permission to conduct business there, and basically threatened to call police and acuse us of trespassing if we continue.

I don't see why their tenants can't legally have us pick up their cars and return them. We are insured for a reason. I don't see a difference between this and Uber picking up or dropping off someone, or a Door Dash making a delivery there.

Please advise!

Asked on 9/26/23, 10:36 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

The shopping center is private property, and its managers have the right to bar non-tenant businesses from operating there. They are allowed to forbid yours even though they allow others, so long as their decision isn't based on race, religion, etc. Now that you've been told to stop, violating their instructions would make you a trespasser. The managers have the right to do this even if you consider it unfair.

It's possible that the center's lease agreements and/or parking contracts expressly allow tenants or customers to let anyone they choose drive their cars to and from the property. That's not likely, but if it's true then barring you violates the rights of those tenants and customers. But it wouldn't violate *your* rights, since you aren't a party to those contracts.

Management might relent if some of your old customers complain about this policy. But the decision is theirs. The law is not on your side.

I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging.

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Answered on 9/26/23, 3:16 pm
Frank Natoli Natoli-Legal, LLC

It's really for the tenants to complain, but the property management can of course dictate who gets to come and go on their property. They could do the same with Uber too.

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Answered on 9/27/23, 6:22 am

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