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The Pacifica Foundation fights back against high lease rate

The Pacifica Foundation has found itself in court sued by Empire State Realty after falling behind on lease payments. The nonprofit company states that it would like to have a fair settlement with the realty company, complaining that the amount the foundation was charged for rent was far too high.

According to the story, the foundation's interim director pointed out that the amount the foundation was charged for rent was over four times the current market rate in New York City, which threatens the future of the foundation, which supports independent community radio. The Pacifica Radio Foundation supports, owns and operates five community radio stations that include KPFK (FM) (Los Angeles), KPFA (FM) (San Francisco), WBAI (New York), WPFW (Washington) and KPFT (FM) (Houston).

The lease agreement runs out in 2020. It currently includes a 7 percent escalating license fee, which makes up the largest portion of what the foundation owes. An additional cost-of-living increase adds around two percent to the bill yearly. The realty company refused to negotiate and let Pacifica out of the lease, which resulted in this conflict.

In total, Pacifica faces over $2 million in unpaid lease fees along with late fees and interest. The foundation has always been current with payments, and until three years ago paid the full rate. Today, it pays the current market rate for renting the space. Currently, the market rate for transmitter tower leases in NYC is $12,000, while the foundation faces a monthly bill of over $53,000.

Situations like this are why you need to make sure you know the legal obligation you take on when you sign a lease as well as what you can do to break it. With your attorney's help, you can be better educated on your rights before you sign a lease.

Source: Radio World, "Pacifica in Court Over Tower Lease Dispute," Randy J. Stine, July 11, 2017

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