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Bet Tzedek Provides Cirque du Soleil Performers With Tenants’ Rights Info

CES and Bet Tzedek Provides Cirque du Soleil Performers With Tenants’ Rights Info as Show Closes and Jobs Are Lost 

At the time many people were preparing to enjoy the holidays, the magnificently talented performers of Cirque du Soleil’s show “Iris” were unfortunately facing the loss of their jobs. It was recently and unexpectedly announced that the show would be closing on January 19, 2013.

In addition to losing their jobs, a number of Cirque performers were also facing some real- life Grinches this Christmas.

Show props & costumes backstage

The performers believing, as most expected, that “Iris” would be running indefinitely, signed long-term rental leases with landlords. Faced with having to relocate as a result of the show’s closing they are now dealing with landlords who will not let them out of their leases and are demanding thousands of dollars from the artists.

A Cirque du Soleil management official contacted the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) seeking assistance for the soon to be jobless and displaced employees.

CES was prepared to offer help and reached out to Bet Tzedek Legal Services who was more than happy to help the artists learn more about their rights as tenants.

On December 18, CES Executive Director Larry Gross and Bet Tzedek Legal Services Attorney Patricia Van Dyke conducted a Tenants’ Rights Clinic at Hollywood’s Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theater for about 20 acrobats, dancers, contortionists and technical stage workers of Cirque du Soleil. The performers were from Russia, Slovakia, Canada, Sweden and other states in the U.S.

Bet Tzedek shared with the artists that, while a landlord has the legal right to hold a tenant responsible for the remaining months of rent, the law only allows the landlord to exercise this right within reason.  Therefore, it is always best to try to work it out with the landlord. Tenants in this situation should attempt to provide their landlord with a written notice of their intent to leave as soon as possible.

The California Civil Code requires landlords to mitigate their damages if a tenant attempts to break a lease early. The landlord must “reasonably” avoid damages. Therefore, if they could find a tenant who meets the landlord’s screening criteria, the landlord is effectively obligated to approve the new tenant, thus removing the obligation of the moving tenant to pay the remaining rent on the lease.

CES and Bet Tzedek told the Cirque artists that they would continue to assist them in efforts to secure a remedy.