Salon owners locked out of business

June 14, 2013 3:12:53 PM PDT
A local business is caught in an apparent dispute between the IRS and the man who owns the store property.

Margy Finegan - one of the owners of Innovations Salon - says the locks have been changed and she can't get in.

"I'm angry. We have been ideal tenants for seven years, never had a problem. We've always paid our rent on time.  I feel it's a personal attack on us, and it's not even our fault," she said.

Finegan explained the problem started when they got letters from the IRS about a levy on their landlord, Martin Rock.  The IRS levy says Rock owes the government more than $113,000 and the IRS ordered the salon to pay the June rent directly to them.  Finegan says she got different directions from Rock.

"He said if I pay the IRS they were going to come after my personal assets, that they were lying and trespassing and that he didn't owe them money.  If I did pay the IRS, I would be in violation of my lease," said Finegan.

Finegan said she decided to listen to the IRS and paid them the salon's June rent.  But, when the salon owners showed up to work this week, their keys no longer worked. The salon sign on the door was taken off and replaced with a closed sign. A second sign stated "This tenant defaulted on the lease for nonpayment of rent."  There were for rent signs up all around the building.

"I've had to cancel appointments already today," said Finegan.

Finegan said because of the situation, the salon owners have had to break into their own business several times.

"We're just a small business who's trying to make it," she offered.

We tried to get answers. Rock has a business right beside the salon, but all the windows are covered in sheets or blinds and there was no sign of Rock.  I was able to get him on the phone, and he told me he doesn't owe the IRS any money.  

He said he's got a hearing pending with the IRS and the salon owners violated their lease when they gave his rent money to the government.  But less than 24 hours later, Rock called me back and changed his  tune - saying he realized he'd gotten bad legal advice and that he has to let Salon Innovations stay and give them access to their salon until the scheduled July court hearing.  

Finegan said while that sounds good, Rock still won't give them the new keys needed to get into their salon and do business.

"I don't know if he realizes how irreputable (sic) the damage he's done could be and he needs to understand you just can't do this to people, especially people who are just trying to make a living, and this is how we make a living," said Finegan.

Rock told me he will give Finegan a key when the salon pays a new $900 key deposit.

Rock is taking Innovations Salon to court over the rent they paid the IRS instead of him. That hearing is also set for July.  

He did state via email that he understands there are feelings of inconvenience, and that his attorney is working with their attorney to reach a fair settlement and resolution without resorting to court, and that he hopes everyone will feel fairly treated with the final agreement.

Finegan at Salon Innovations told me that simply is not true, they have never heard from Rock's attorney through any of this.

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