John Walker Jr
. and his Jerky's Chicken
restaurant has defeated an effort by his landlord to evict the restaurant from 521 Center Street.
Walker stopped paying rent in February because of a roof leak, plumbing problems and non-working air conditioning. He later tried to resume checks, but they were refused.
The rental representative for the LLC that owns the building, Jordan Inc., doing business as Rental Realty, argued that all systems were in good condition before Walker took possession and that he should be ousted from the building because he'd failed to put disputed rent in a court registry and failed to file a written list of complaints.
Judge Mary McGowan sided with Walker. She found that Walker had given sufficient notice of the problems and that he had justification under the law to withhold the rent payment. She said the testimony showed a lack of air conditioning during the "brutal heat" of summer, which had caused a "huge economic loss."
The judge denied the landlord's request for a writ of possession and asked the parties how much time it would take to try Walker's case that it was the landlord's responsibility to make repairs.
Jerky's remains open and the cooler weather should help. Walker said the court ruling at least means the restaurant can book events knowing they'll still be there.