Burien, LLC v. Wiley

Landlord converted a rent-controlled apartment building to condominiums, obtained a new certificate of occupancy in 2009 based on the change in use, and raised the rent. Tenant objected. Landlord sought a declaration from the trial court that the unit was exempt from local rent control ordinances under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, Civ. Code, 1954.50 et seq. On appeal, Landlord challenged the trial court's conclusion that the unit was not exempt, and judgment in favor of tenant. The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, and rejected Landlord's contention that the unit is exempt from rent control under section 1954.52, subdivision (a)(1) where that section refers to certificates of occupancy issued prior to residential use of the unit.View "Burien, LLC v. Wiley" on Justia Law

Mason-McDuffie Real Estate, Inc. v. Villa Fiore Dev., LLC

Appellant leased commercial real property from Respondent. Appellant vacated the property and ceased paying rent after a significant water intrusion event. Respondent filed a complaint alleging that Appellant breached the lease. Appellant counterclaimed that Respondent constructively evicted Appellant by failing to maintain the roof. The district court entered judgment in favor of Respondent, concluding (1) severe water intrusion justified Appellant’s vacating the property; but (2) the lease obligated Appellant to provide Respondent written notice of and thirty days to cure the water intrusion before exercising any other potential remedies, and Appellant did comply with the notice and cure provision. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court’s factual findings did not support Appellant’s argument that it was constructively evicted, and therefore, the Court did not need to address whether Appellant was required to comply with the lease’s notice and cure provision in order to successfully assert constructive eviction.View "Mason-McDuffie Real Estate, Inc. v. Villa Fiore Dev., LLC" on Justia Law

Housing & Redevelopment Auth. of Duluth v. Lee

Minn. Stat. 504B.177 generally places a limitation on late fees for residential housing tenants at eight percent of the overdue rent payment. In this case, Respondent, a tenant living in federally subsidized housing, failed to pay late fees assessed by the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Duluth (HRA) under his lease. The HRA filed this eviction action for nonpayment of rent. The total amount in arrears was $50. At issue before the district court was whether the monthly $25 late fee provided in the parties’ lease violated section 504B.177. The district court entered judgment for the HRA, concluding that federal law preempts the state limitation on late fees with respect to public housing authorities. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the eight percent limitation on late fees in section 504B.177(a) is not preempted by federal law and does not conflict with a federal statute, regulation, or handbook under section 504B.177(b); and (2) therefore, the HRA was subject to the eight percent limitation. View "Housing & Redevelopment Auth. of Duluth v. Lee" on Justia Law

MSO, LLC v. DeSimone

Plaintiff leased property from Defendants pursuant to a lease agreement that included an arbitration clause. Plaintiffs later sued Defendants over disputes regarding the lease. After engaging in litigation with Plaintiff for more than two years, Defendants filed a motion to stay the proceedings pending arbitration under the parties’ lease agreement. Plaintiff objected to the motion, arguing that Defendants had waived their right to enforce the arbitration clause by engaging in lengthy litigation. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion, concluding, as a matter of law, that a party cannot waive enforcement of an arbitration clause in a contract. The Appellate Court affirmed, concluding that the record was inadequate for review because the trial court failed to make any factual findings on the issue of waiver. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because the legal basis of the trial court’s decision was at issue, a factual record on the question of waiver was not necessary to review the trial court’s decision; and (2) the trial court based its judgment on an incorrect statement of the law, and therefore, the court erred in granting Defendants’ motion for a stay pending arbitration. View "MSO, LLC v. DeSimone" on Justia Law

Figgs v. Boston Housing Auth.

Trenea Figgs was a participant in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 program, which was administered by the Boston Housing Authority. After the discovery by police officers of marijuana and a loaded firearm in Figgs’s apartment, the BHA notified Figgs of its intent to terminate her participation in the Section 8 program due to violations of her lease. A hearing officer concluded that termination of Figgs’s Section 8 housing subsidy was proper in light of her serious lease violation. The Housing Court reversed and ordered the BHA to reinstate Figgs’s Section 8 housing subsidy. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the judgment of the Housing Court, holding that, notwithstanding the enactment of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 94C, 32L, which decriminalized the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, the hearing officer properly concluded that Figgs violated her lease based on evidence of other criminal activity in Figgs’s rental premises, and the violation warranted Figgs’s termination from the Section 8 program. View "Figgs v. Boston Housing Auth." on Justia Law

Forte, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Wal-Mart rented space to optometrists using a standard lease agreement requiring optometrists to make representations in their leases of the projected number of hours their offices would remain open. A jury found Wal-Mart liable for setting or attempting to influence office hours of an optometrist in violation of the Texas Optometry Act. Tex. Occ. Code 351.408. The district court subsequently remitted the jury's award of almost $4 million in civil penalties and plaintiffs accepted remittitur. Wal-Mart appealed. The court affirmed the district court's judgment regarding Wal-Mart's liability; reversed and vacated the district court's judgment regarding damages where the district court erred in applying Chapter 41's, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 41.001(5), lower damage cap exception; and remanded.View "Forte, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 v. Carroll

SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 (SFI) owned an apartment complex containing approximately 200 apartments. Through its agent, SFI leased an apartment to Michelle Carroll. The lease included provisions requiring Carroll to pay for repairs caused by her use of the unit and to maintain renter’s insurance including “a personal liability coverage to a minimum of $100,000.00.” A fire occurred in the apartment rented to Carroll. Both the apartment and the surrounding building were damaged. SFI had $10 million of total insurance coverage on the apartment complex. The policy provided for a deductible of $250,000 per occurrence unless a specific deductible applied. The parties stipulated that SFI sustained damages in excess of $100,000 resulting from the fire, which damages were not covered by its insurance policy. But neither the total amount of damages nor the amount of any insurance recovery by SFI was included in the evidence. Carroll had renter’s insurance in place at that time, and she submitted a claim to her insurer. Carroll’s insurer paid her $1,500, representing only her damages under “Loss of Use Coverage.” In previous cases, the Nebraska Supreme Court applied an antisubrogation rule to prohibit a landlord’s insurer from seeking reimbursement from the tenant of fire losses paid by insurance. In this appeal, the Court declined to extend the antisubrogation rule to a landlord’s uninsured losses allegedly caused by its tenant’s negligence. Therefore the Court reversed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the tenant. The case was remanded for further proceedings.View "SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 v. Carroll" on Justia Law

Hundtofte v. Encarnacion

Ignacio Encarnacion and Norma Karla Farias were sued for unlawful detainer even though they had a valid lease and did nothing to warrant eviction. The case settled. They moved to amend the Superior Court Management Information System (SCOMIS) indices to replace their full names with their initials in order to hide the fact that they were defendants to the unlawful detainer action. Encarnacion and Farias argued that even though the unlawful detainer action was meritless, they could not obtain sufficient rental housing after prospective landlords learned that they had an unlawful detainer action filed against them. The superior court granted their motion and ordered that the indices be changed to show only their initials. The King County Superior Court Office of Judicial Administration objected and appealed the order. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed: "[a]lthough we sympathize with Encarnacion and Farias, and other renters in similar situations . . .[t]he public's interest in the open administration of justice prohibits the redaction of the indices in this case." View "Hundtofte v. Encarnacion" on Justia Law

JW, LLC v. Ayer and Martell

In February 2005, tenants Brian Ayer and Debbie Martell began leasing a single-family home from landlord-plaintiff JW, LLC. Tenants resided in the home with their children and animals, including dogs and chickens. At the time tenants moved in, the house was relatively new and in excellent condition. The monthly rent was $1300. Tenants paid no rent in March and April 2012. They paid rent in May 2012 plus $300 in arrears, but made no further rental payments. Landlord filed for eviction in July 2012. The court issued a rent escrow order. Tenants made only a partial rental payment in August, and the court issued an order for a writ of possession. The writ issued on August 10, 2012 and was served ten days later. The writ stated that tenants had to vacate the premises by midnight on September 6, 2012. On the return of service, the sheriff noted that he had explained the writ and tenants had no questions, and, although tenants refused to take the paperwork, the sheriff left it at the residence. Landlord denied tenant further access to the residence to claim property. Landlord also denied tenant access to the items that landlord had retained. Landlord claimed that the justification for retaining tenants’ personal property was based on two statutes. The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court centered on the status of tenants’ personal property, which landlord cleared from the leased premises at the time a writ of possession was executed. The trial court concluded that landlord did not rightfully have possession of the property and ordered landlord to return it to tenant. Landlord argued that pursuant to statute he was entitled to retain the property, and, in the alternative, the court erred in denying his request for a writ of attachment for the property. The Supreme Court disagreed with the trial court that 12 V.S.A. 4854a only allowed a landlord who has evicted a tenant to dispose of trash without the threat of liability, and for other property requires a landlord "to make reasonable efforts to find out what tenant plans to do and to store the property for 60 days." Because the dwelling unit was not abandoned and the tenant did not vacate, 9 V.S.A. 4462 did not apply, and there was no statutory basis to require a landlord to store property remaining in a dwelling unit after an eviction. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "JW, LLC v. Ayer and Martell" on Justia Law

Olsen v. Stark Holmes, Inc.

Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3604(f), and New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law 296(5) and (18)(2). Plaintiffs alleged that defendants denied their application for a lease because of the disability of their son, who suffers from major depression, and that they were denied reasonable accommodation for his condition. On appeal, plaintiffs principally contend that the district court erred in dismissing their claims as a matter of law and that it should have granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of plaintiffs on their reasonable accommodation claim. The court concluded that the district court properly declined to grant judgment as a matter of law in favor of plaintiffs on the reasonable accommodation claim, but that, as to all of plaintiffs' claims, the evidence was sufficient to preclude the granting of judgment in favor of defendants as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for trial.View "Olsen v. Stark Holmes, Inc." on Justia Law