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February 16, 1986|DOUGLAS RING and BUSTER SUSSMAN | Ring is a partner in the law firm of Howard, Ring & Chizever. Sussman is a free-lance writer. and

Better late than never?

Not when it comes to taking advantage of lease options.

This is a lesson recently learned by Bekins Moving & Storage Co. Bekins was leasing a downtown Los Anglees office building from the Prudential Insurance Co.

The lease had an initial 10-year period, with the right to renew for three five-year periods. However, the lease also said that Bekins had to give Prudential written notice of its intent to renew six months before the end of each term.

Notice that word "intent."

That's because while Bekins did write Prudential about the lease in the months before the lease ended, Bekins didn't actually say that it intended to renew. What happened was that Prudential refused to let Bekins exercise its lease option. Instead, Prudential offered to negotiate an entirely new lease.

Not fair, Bekins claimed.

But the court did not agree. What the judge said was that when a contract gives you specific rights if you act by a specific time, then late is the same as never.

Some might say that for Bekins this was a moving experience.

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