Whether you own stock in a business or you run a business that has shareholders, understanding the rights of a stock owner can help you better protect your interests.
A good contract is designed to keep you out of lawsuits -- not put you right in the middle of one. However, some contracts can be more troublesome than others.
If you're an entrepreneur who is just getting your fledgling business off the ground, these are the contracts to be wary about signing without experienced legal advice:
An errant text message or two is all it takes for your business to end up in court. A Tennessee resident has filed a federal lawsuit over unsolicited text messages he received from Florida's largest distributor of medical marijuana.
Many of the state's 22 licensed marijuana dispensaries use text messages to advertise specials and communicate new information about products to their customers. However, the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires businesses who market via phone calls or text messages to obtain written consent from consumers before they can use automatic dialing or text messing systems for that purpose. This is designed to prevent consumers from being "spammed" by unwanted advertising.
Maybe you've never invested in real estate before -- or maybe you've had a few residential rentals for a while now. Either way, dipping your toes in the waters of a commercial property investment can seem terribly exciting for a change.
But is commercial property investment really a good idea for you? Here are some of the pros and cons to consider before you take that next step:
Two of the most important parts of any contract are "offer and acceptance." Without them, your contract doesn't exist -- but most people aren't entirely clear on what offer and acceptance actually mean.
What's an offer?
As a landlord, you know that evictions are sometimes necessary to reclaim your property from an uncooperative tenant. But what happens when your tenant claims that you violated the law by performing an illegal "constructive" eviction?
Landlords can be accused of constructive eviction both for the actions they take and the actions they don't -- which sometimes makes the issue confusing. Essentially, your tenant (or former tenant) claims that you forced him or her out through some intolerable act.
Fraud is a major problem in many industries. However, it often hurts small and medium-sized businesses the most. Fraud can not only hurt you financially, but it can also damage the relationship and trust that you've built with your clients, suppliers and other business associates.
Small businesses usually have fewer checks and balances in place that prevent fraud in the first place. Many small businesses are also family-owned, which means that most of their employees are well-known to them. The trust that you may have in your partners and employees and the relative lack of oversight in your business compared to what goes on in large companies make it easier for fraud to occur.
Retaliatory evictions occur when a landlord aims to evict a tenant because the landlord is angry over something the tenant was within his or her rights to do. Retaliatory evictions are illegal -- but that doesn't necessarily mean that your landlord won't try it anyhow if he or she is determined to oust you from your spot.
Most of the time, "troublesome tenants" are the ones targeted for retaliation. You may have provoked your landlord's ire by doing something like:
- Exercising your exclusive use rights in your lease in a way that limits the landlord's goals
- Organizing the other tenants into a union or joining an existing union against the landlord's wishes
- Asking the landlord (maybe repeatedly) to make repairs that he or she is obligated to make
- Filing a complaint with a government entity over building code violations or other issues
- Putting your rent in escrow and withholding payment until the landlord makes necessary repairs
Business disputes happen. You and a contractor may disagree on who is responsible for a project's failure. You may have to sue a client or distributor over a broken contract.
But what about times when the lawsuit simply seems to come out of nowhere -- when the lawsuit seems designed more to upset you and disrupt your business than actually address a wrong? You may even suspect that a personal or professional grudge is motivating the lawsuit. Perhaps you suspect that a larger competitor is aiming to snuff your business out of existence to eliminate you as competition.
It generally isn't illegal for an employee or former employee to criticize a business, but defamation by a disgruntled employee is another story.
Defamation happens when someone makes a statement of fact that is knowingly false and that statement injures the other party's reputation. Oral statements are called slander, while written statements -- like that you'd find online -- are called libel.