Justia Landlord – Tenant Opinion Summaries

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In 2009-2010, eight tenants were evicted from their respective homes for alleged violations of the Lansing Housing and Premises Code. Each eviction followed an inspection of the buildings conducted in conjunction with criminal drug investigations. Each inspector summarized his findings in an eviction “red-tag” notice form, which he gave to the tenant; none of the red-tags provided any information regarding the right to appeal and have an administrative hearing. Each stated: “You must contact the undersigned, no later than ... to set up an appointment to meet at the structure (to verify that all corrections have been completed) or to acquire an authorized extension. Before the re-inspection you must obtain all required permits and have those repairs inspected .... If you have any questions or concerns about complying within the time indicated, you may contact ….” None of the tenants filed an appeal within the 20-day period prescribed by the code. They later filed suit. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of the Inspectors’ qualified immunity defense with respect to the constitutional adequacy of the notice. Sixth Circuit precedent did not clearly establish that a notice of eviction must include a direct explanation of the post-deprivation appeals process. View "Gardner v. Evans" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs owned a building, with a mortgage, in Hartford, Vermont, where they operated a pizza business. In 2013, they sold the pizza business to defendant and leased him the premises. In November 2013, plaintiffs brought an eviction action, asserting that defendant had failed to pay rent. The court granted plaintiffs a default judgment and a writ of possession in December 2013. The court subsequently granted defendant’s request to vacate the default judgment and stay the writ of possession. Defendant then filed an answer and a counterclaim. In his counterclaim, defendant argued that he was fraudulently induced into entering into the lease agreement and that the lease should be declared void. Alternatively, defendant argued that he had cured any breach of the lease by paying money into an escrow fund. Defendant appealed the trial court’s order granting judgment to plaintiffs on their complaint for ejectment and damages. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Panagiotidis v. Galanis" on Justia Law

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Bare Exposure operates “Atlantic City’s Only All Nude Entertainment.” HMS, a private corporation, leases expressway service plazas from the South Jersey Transportation and New Jersey Turnpike Authorities to operate restaurants and convenience stores. The Authorities are not involved in day-to-day operations or management, but only perform long-term maintenance to parking areas, building exteriors, and lobbies. HMS entered into a contract, allowing CTM to install and service brochure display racks in plaza lobbies. HMS “must approve all brochures or publications” before placement. The Authorities were not a party to the CTM contract. HMS discovered a Bare Exposure brochure in a CTM display rack. HMS instructed CTM to remove all Bare Exposure brochures. HMS did not consult with or receive any direction from the Authorities and did not consider the New Jersey Administrative Code. The Authorities never directed HMS to take any actions regarding the brochures. Bare Exposure contends that the Authorities placed government signs and photographs in lobbies and filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that HMS violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of HMS. HMS did act not “under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State,” absent direct involvement by state authorities either in the decision to remove the brochures or in general plaza operations. View "P.R.B.A. Corp. v. HMS Host Toll Roads, Inc." on Justia Law

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Landlords filed an eviction action against Tenant. Eventually, the parties settled the eviction action by a stipulation that was signed by the district court judge. Thereafter, Tenant filed a negligence action alleging that Landlords failed to maintain the house free from toxic mold and fungus and that the mold ruined Tenant’s personal property. Landlords filed a motion in limine to prevent Tenant from entering the parties’ stipulation into evidence to prove causation in the negligence action and moved for summary judgment. The hearing justice granted Landlords’ motion in limine, barring the admission of the district court stipulation. The court then granted summary judgment for Defendants, ruling that Tenant could offer no other evidence of causation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the hearing justice correctly granted the motion in limine, as nothing in the stipulation established that Landlords caused mold to accumulate on Tenant’s personal property; and (2) because Tenant conceded that there was no other evidence on the element of causation, the hearing justice correctly granted Landlords’ motion for summary judgment. View "Curreri v. Saint" on Justia Law

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This case involved a dispute between Landlord and Tenant. Landlord served a forty-five-day eviction notice on Tenant stating that the lease would be terminated, but Tenant refused to leave the premises. Tenant filed a complaint alleging claims for, inter alia retaliatory eviction, and fraudulent misrepresentation. Landlord filed a motion for leave to file a summary possession counterclaim. The district court granted the motion. After a trial, the district court entered a judgment for possession and writ of possession in favor of Landlord. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and vacated the district court’s judgment for possession and writ of possession, holding (1) the ICA erred in affirming the district court’s judgment for possession and writ of possession based on the forty-five-day notice to vacate because when Landlord issued to Tenant the forty-five-day notice to vacate, Haw. Rev. Stat. 521-74(a) rendered the notice ineffective; (2) there were no grounds to remove Tenant based on a failure to pay rent; and (3) the ICA erred in determining that the district court did not prevent Tenant from fully presenting evidence for the court’s consideration on the issue of summary possession. View "Cedillos v. Masumoto" on Justia Law

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A regulation promulgated by San Francisco’s Rent Board provides that notwithstanding any changes to the terms of a tenancy under section 827, a tenant may not be evicted for violating an obligation that was not included in the tenant’s original rental agreement unless the change is authorized by San Francisco’s rent control ordinance, is required by law, or is accepted by the tenant in writing. (Rule 12.20.) The issues this case presented for the Court of Appeal's review centered on: (1) whether section 827 preempted Rule 12.20; (2) whether the Rent Board exceeded its powers when it adopted Rule 12.20; and (3) whether it exceeded its powers when it adopted Rule 6.15C, which limited the rent a master tenant may charge to a subtenant but provided that a violation of that limitation was not a basis for eviction. Plaintiff Margaret Foster lived for more than 40 years in an apartment in a multi-unit building now owned by defendant and cross-complainant John Britton and managed by defendant and cross-complainant W.J. Britton & Co., Inc. (collectively, “Britton”). After buying the building in 2011, Britton served the tenants, including plaintiff, with “House Rules.” The document setting forth the new “House Rules” stated that the rules superseded all previous house rules, that they went into effect 30 days from receipt, and that “Tenant accepts the House Rules by remaining in possession after they come into effect and paying rent each month. If Tenant does not accept the House Rules, Tenant may opt to give 30 days’ written notice to Landlord to terminate his or her tenancy and move out.” Plaintiff responded that the longstanding terms of her tenancy (that the House Rules effectively prohibited) included garbage service, two parking spaces, an assigned area in the back yard, specific storage spaces, and the use of her service porch for laundry and storage. She informed Britton she did not agree to any unilateral changes to her rental agreement. In the ensuing dispute, Britton took the position that section 827, subdivision (a) preempted Rule 12.20. The Court of Appeal concluded that section 827 did not preempt Rule 12.20 and that the Rent Board did not exceed its powers in adopting the challenged regulations. View "Foster v. Britton" on Justia Law

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Norma Tison entered into a lease for a mobile home lot in October 2001. The lease was executed on a preprinted form prepared by Manufactured Housing Communities of Washington. It was a one-year lease with several handwritten provisions that Tison specifically negotiated. The lease called for a monthly rent of $345 and contained a negotiated provision (the “rent cap provision”) that stated, "Every other year, rent will be raised no more than $10.00 for remaining tenancy." Petitioner Western Plaza LLC purchased the mobile home park in February 2008. At that time, Tison's monthly rent was $375. In March 2009, Western Plaza sent Tison a notice that her rent would be increased to $405 starting in July 2009. Tison began paying $385 per month, consistent with the rent cap provision; there was nothing in the record that indicated whether Western Plaza contemporaneously rejected any of Tison's $385 payments or indicated to her that it considered those payments partial. In June 2011, Western Plaza informed Tison that her rent would increase to $495 starting in October 2011. Relying on the rent cap provision, Tison attempted to pay the $395 she believed was due. Western Plaza rejected her payments and initiated this unlawful detainer action. Tison moved for summary judgment, arguing that Western Plaza was bound by the rent cap provision. Western Plaza argued that the rent cap provision was not enforceable because it conflicted with the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act (MHLTA) and violated the statute of frauds. The trial court denied Tison's motion for summary judgment and resolved the unlawful detainer action in Western Plaza's favor. The Court of Appeals reversed. After review, the Supreme Court held hold that the provision was permissible under the MHLTA and that the writing and signatures on the lease satisfied the statute of frauds applicable to rental agreements for mobile home lots. The Court therefore affirmed the Court of Appeals. View "Western Plaza, LLC v. Tison" on Justia Law

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LA Hillcreste filed a complaint in an unlawful detainer seeking to evict petitioner for the alleged non-payment of rent. The court subsequently ordered the case transferred from the Appellate Division under California Rules of Court, rule 8.1008. At issue is whether petitioner may bring a motion to quash service of the summons on the ground that the landlord did not properly serve the three-day notice to pay rent or quit required under the Unlawful Detainer Act, Code Civ. Proc., 1159-1179a. The court concluded that petitioner may not challenge the allegedly defective service of the three-day notice via a motion to quash service of summons because the three-day notice is an element of an unlawful detainer action. In so holding, the court disagreed with the broad language of Delta Imports, Inc. v. Municipal Court, which held that a motion to quash service is the only method to challenge whether a complaint states a cause of action for unlawful detainer. The court denied the petition for writ of mandate. View "Borsuk v. Appellate Division" on Justia Law

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The Mamertos owned residential property located in Escondido, and leased the premises to George Jakubec. At some time during the tenancy, Jakubec created homemade explosives and stored explosive devices and materials on the premises. The Mamertos hired Mario Garcia to maintain the landscaping at the Premises. Garcia or his employees worked on the premises at least once every two weeks throughout the approximately five years leading up to the accident and never noticed anything suspicious or dangerous. On November 18, 2010, Garcia was injured when he walked over unstable explosive material on the backside of the premises and the material exploded under him. Garcia and his wife sued for premises liability alleging the Mamertos were negligent in the maintenance of the premises by allowing explosive materials to be kept on the premises. The Mamertos moved for summary judgment arguing they owed no duty to Mario because they had no actual or constructive knowledge of the explosive materials on the Premises, thus there was no foreseeable risk requiring an inspection. The trial court concluded the landowners owed no duty to Mario. The Garcias argued on appeal that a month-to-month tenancy provided the landlord the right to enter and inspect the property at periodic intervals without actual notice of a need to inspect. The Court of Appeal disagreed and affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Mamertos. View "Garcia v. Holt" on Justia Law

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Normandy Apartments, Ltd. owned and managed a low-income rental housing project where tenants’ rents were federally subsidized under the Section 8 project-based program. In 2004, Normandy and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) entered into a contract (the HAP contract) wherein HUD agreed to pay rental housing assistance to Normandy. Normandy and HUD renewed the contract annually until 2004. The named parties and signatories of the 2004 HAP contract were the Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority and Normandy. In 2007, HUD notified Normandy that its assistance payments would be terminated because Normandy defaulted on the HAP contract by repeatedly failing to maintain the apartments. In 2010, Normandy filed suit against the government in the United States Court of Federal Claims asserting a breach of the 2004 HAP Contract and requesting damages. The Claims Court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Normandy then filed an amended complaint asserting a takings claim against the government. The Claims Court granted summary judgment in favor of the government. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the Claims Court correctly dismissed Normandy’s breach of contract claim for lack of jurisdiction because the United States was not a party to the 2004 HAP contract; and (2) HUD’s conduct did not constitute a regulatory taking. View "Normandy Apartments, Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law