Landlord fights to evict bookstore

February 07, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

An adult bookstore's offer to buy the Edgewood store it rents has been rejected by the property's owner because, he says, he promised residents of a neighboring mobile home park he owns that he would fight to shut down the store.

In 1988 John Seisman bought the property next door to Reeds at Bayview, the mobile home park he owns at 3001 Pulaski Highway.

Mr. Seisman would not say how much he paid for the property or the amount he was offered for it. He did call the offer "substantial."

Since buying the property, his attempts to evict the bookstore, operating as U.S. Books at 3011-13 Pulaski Highway, have had a number of legal setbacks.

The latest attempt failed last week when Harford District Judge John S. Landbeck Jr. ruled that Mr. Seisman may not evict T & A. Leasing Inc. because an offshoot corporation, Heather D & M Inc., filed for Chapter 11 protection on Jan. 14 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Heather D & M Inc. holds the Harford County trader's license for U.S. Books.

In its Chapter 11 filing, Heather D & M Inc. listed assets of $750 and debts of $27,500, which included $20,000 owed for merchandise to T & A Leasing Inc., $5,000 owed to Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. and $2,500 for disputed rent owed to John Philip Inc. which is Mr. Seisman's corporate name.

Bernard Kole, U.S. Books' attorney, filed a motion in District Court on Jan. 25 to suspend action on the rent because of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Under Chapter 11 proceedings, a business receives protection from its creditors as it attempts to reorganize its finances.

The main hitch to Mr. Seisman's eviction attempts appears to be a 1984 lease signed by the original owner, who has since died, and J. P. L. Inc. and its successors.

To learn the names of those successors requires sorting through a trail of offshoot corporations in court records. A common bond, the number 3011, as in 3011 Pulaski Highway, the address of U.S. Books, appears regularly.

J. P. L. Inc. signed the 1984 lease as the tenant at 3011 Pulaski Highway in Edgewood.

In a 1990 Circuit Court decision, J. P. L. Inc. and its successors, identified as L. F. Publications Inc. and 3011 Corporation, were ordered to pay monthly rent of $2,500 through Dec. 31, 1992.

Last February, a sublease agreement was signed between J. P .L Inc./L. F. Publications Inc./3011 Corporation of 3011 Pulaski Highway, tenants, and Heather D & M Inc. of the same 3011 Pulaski Highway address.

"I really thought we had it all settled back in 1990 in Circuit Court before Judge [Cypert O.] Whitfill, that they would have to vacate by Dec. 31, 1992," Mr. Seisman said.

The final paragraph of the judgment signed by Judge Whitfill stipulated that J. P. L. Inc. and others would move out of the building at 3011-13 Pulaski Highway on or before Dec. 31, 1992, and failing that, the monthly rent could double.

When T & A Leasing Inc., the corporation that signed the monthly rent checks for U.S. Books, failed to leave, Mr. Seisman raised the rent to $5,000 last month.

When the additional rent was not paid, Mr. Seisman sought to evict his tenant on Jan. 19.

On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Kole, also the attorney for Heather D & M Inc., filed a complaint, asking the Harford Circuit Court to enforce its lease.

Citing its sublease dated last February, Heather D & M Inc.

claimed its tenancy will not end until Jan. 12, 1998, and that it has a five-year renewal option beyond that. It also contends Mr. Seisman, as owner of John Philip Inc., lacked authority to enter into the 1990 settlement and therefore may not raise its rent.

The complaint asks the Circuit Court to order that its subtenant lease is valid.

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