Picture Wendy Nylen’s Gallery

For 20 years, Picture This owner Wendy Nylen enjoyed a good relationship with her landlord.

Her art gallery and custom framing shop was in Village Center, aka “the strip mall with Dunkin’ Donuts opposite Fresh Market.”

Six years ago, her lease ran out. Since then, she rented on a month-to-month basis.

Last year, Equity One bought the shopping center. They offered Wendy a new lease — almost exactly double what she’d been paying. They would not negotiate.

Wendy moved out (to the former Great Cakes, just down the road). She paid Equity One the rent and property taxes, up to her move date.

Picture This in its new location, the former Great Cakes. (Photo/Billy Scalzi)

Picture This in its new location, the former Great Cakes. (Photo/Billy Scalzi)

The owners now claim she owes $576.73, for some maintenance charges — not damage to the space — and for removing the sign. Wendy says that neither were her responsibility while Kowalsky owned the building.

She told Equity One exactly that, and noted that she had no lease with them.

Wendy was rewarded with a letter from a law firm threatening to sue her business — and “enter litigation against the principals on a personal basis should the corporate judgment appear uncollectible.”

“They may be counting on the fact that hiring a lawyer to defend myself would cost me more than the amount they claim,” Wendy notes. “I find this bullying and despicable. What do you think?”

Hey, don’t ask me. Ask the readers of “06880.” I’m sure they’ve got opinions!

17 responses to “Picture Wendy Nylen’s Gallery

  1. Billy Scalzi

    Despicable, Sickening, Pigs, Unbridled GREED. You stand up for yourself Wendy.

  2. Jill Turner Odice

    LIke they really need the money I’m sure…You would think they would appreciate a good long standing tenant. They should be ashamed of themselves for picking on a small business owner after forcing her to have to relocate.

  3. Since the amount is so small this should be a small claims matter, and you should have a pretty good chance against them.
    If you do end up having to pay them, please send payment in unrolled coins and crumpled singles. Pennies are hard to come by but a nice mixture of cold cash and wrinkled bills should work.

  4. Pay the money. Wipe the slate clean and be careful in the future. This battle is not worth fighting. It is a good idea to have an attorney though. They may be able to help you recognize these pitfalls in the future. Looks like you have a beautiful place with wonderful art, so keep it going. Good Luck!

  5. Beth Berkowitz

    I believe that for the amount of $576 you would go to small claims court and you may not need a lawyer for small claims court, but since they are a large corporation, they will need a lawyer. I am not a lawyer, though so maybe you should make some inquiries about the proper proceedings and I believe you can and should counter claim for a frivolous and malicious charges against the “big bad landlord.” I am thinking that since there was no lease because Wendy was paying the full amount of rent on a month to month basis after her lease expired and the landlord didn’t have to evict her, they probably don’t really have a legal leg to stand on. They probably wanted to try to scare her into paying by having the letter written on a law firm’s stationary, but until they file suit they probably are just bluffing anyway. Also, they may just want to see if Wendy will negotiate something with them to make them go away!

    I just don’t understand why so many of the area landlords would rather sit with vacant spaces than make the rents more reasonable to encourage more tenants to fill the spaces. Can someone please explain that phenomena to me? Isn’t it better to receive some money for a consistent long or short term tenant than none for long periods of time?

  6. Christine Barth

    Sadly, this is all too common behavior from landlords. I agree with the other respondents that Small Claims may be the way to go. Perhaps contacting Channel 12’s consumer advocate might help. They seem to like helping individuals and small businesses.

  7. There must be a face of Equity One; Senior Managers, Directors, etc. Maybe if they were made aware of the unfortunate publicity the firm is receiving as a result of this conflict, they might seek a more amicable solution.

    • Edward Bloch

      After reading about this unfortunate development I sent an e-mail to Matthew Ostrower, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Equity One, pointing out that this was another round of bad publicity for Equity One in Westport and asking for an explanation of this incident. Ostrower appears to be the public face of Equity One (his name is on all press releases and there is no public relations contact). No response so far. His e-mail address is mostrower@equityone.net and direct phone number is 212.796.1747.

  8. Bullying indeed I agree!!

  9. Wouldn’t it depend on what the original lease says? Was the tenant responsible for those expenses upon termination of the original lease? Does that carry over if the tenant doesn’t renew but stays on month to month? If not, whatever the common law is on month to month tenancy will apply. She should look into it since if she ignores it, she may end up with a judgment against her.

  10. Peter Flatow

    I know that Wendy has used the services of SCORE and that would be where she should go for help. It is free and they will find a professional who has the experience to help her.

  11. Cheryl McKenna

    Some of the story seems to leave out facts … Was any improvements to space required to return to original condition? That would be signage … Failing that in original lease I would proceed below :
    The amount is so small they will not pursue if you just say no …. The cost to litigate is not worth the lawyers time for small claims court either…. Bully them right back hard … Good luck

  12. I’m sorry to see these large corporate landlords take over local commercial real estate. Makes it difficult for individual shopkeepers to operate. Down the line it means more corporate retail.

  13. Mary Maynard

    LET’S ALL GO AND LET THE AIR OUT OF EQUITY ONE’S TIRES! MMM

  14. it is bullying.
    It would be good to know the stores located in buildings they own and BOYCOTT THEM!
    For one the building where Wendy was!

    • And the purpose for boycotting the business would be to hurt Equity One??! It would only be hurting the businesses and really what purpose would that serve. Write the CFO a letter… Complain to the town when their construction negatively impacts a neighborhood but do not boycott the businesses. That is just plain stupid.

    • Dale Nordling

      B Crane Baker, Equity One is the bully.
      Boycotting stores who are still renting space from E1 would just create more hardship for the stores themselves, possibly in the form of lost business and income, which will not affect E1 unless those stores can’t pay their rent and are evicted. (and E1 may find this useful as they can then double the rents on those spaces too.)
      Let’s not forget that those Tenant stores may find themselves in the same position that Wendy Nylan finds herself in now, and they are not the bad guys!