Justia Landlord – Tenant Opinion Summaries

By Justia Inc
Appellants were the owners of multi-unit apartment buildings located in Montana and the property management companies that managed Owners’ apartment complexes during the time relevant to this suit. Appellees were current or former tenants of Owners’ apartment complexes who signed leases for those apartments through the property management companies. Appellees filed a complaint on behalf of themselves and other unnamed plaintiffs alleging that certain provisions included in the leases were prohibited by law. The district court granted Appellees’ motion for class certification. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by certifying the class under Mont. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3). View "Worledge v. Riverstone" on Justia Law
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By Justia Inc
Husband and wife (who did not speak English) entered into a written one-year lease, took possession of the apartment, and tendered the security deposit and first month’s rent. Ten days into the lease, they received “an official 30 days notice” of eviction, stating that “[c]onstruction begins June 10,” and that they did not qualify for an unspecified “new program.” Several additional efforts to force the family to move followed; their tender of rent was refused. They purportedly sought legal advice and were told that the landlord could not unilaterally terminate the lease. They reported feeling discriminated against and harassed; they were confused, depressed, and anxious. Demolition began while the family was occupying the apartment. Husband allegedly told wife that he could not tolerate the situation any longer. The following day, he committed suicide in the apartment. Wife sought damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, wrongful eviction, breach of contract; under the Wrongful Death Act; and under the survival statute. The trial court dismissed the wrongful death and related survival actions, finding that “wrongful death via suicide” is not cognizable in Illinois. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed. Despite an ostensible connection between severe emotional distress and suicide, suicide may result from a complex combination of factors. It is “rare” that suicide would not break the chain of causation and bar a wrongful death action, even where the plaintiff alleges the defendant inflicted severe emotional distress. Husband’s suicide was not a reasonably foreseeable result of defendant’s alleged conduct in breaking the lease and pressuring the family to vacate. View "Turcios v. DeBruler Co." on Justia Law

By Justia Inc
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) terminated the Section 8 benefits of Petitioners. Petitioners commenced separate N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceedings against NYCHA seeking to annul NYCHA’s determinations as arbitrary and capricious and to reinstate their benefits. NYCHA move to dismiss the proceedings as time barred, arguing that Petitioners did not commence these proceedings within four months of their receipt of their respective “T-3 letters.” Supreme Court denied NYCHA’s motions and granted Petitioners’ petitions, concluding that the statute of limitations did not begin to run because NYCHA failed to show that it mailed all three notices - a warning letter, T-1 letter and T-3 letter - required under a federal consent judgment. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) pursuant to the consent judgment, the statute begins to run upon the tenant’s receipt of the T-3 letter, regardless of whether NYCHA has proven that it mailed other notices required by the consent judgment to be sent before the T-3 letter; and (2) the Appellate Division found in each case that NYCHA established proper mailing of the T-3 letters, and Petitioners did not commence these proceedings within four months of their receipt of the T-3 letters. View "Banos v. Rhea" on Justia Law

By Justia Inc
After Defendant, the owner of real property in the Town of Canton, abandoned the subject property, the Town filed a petition seeking the appointment of a receiver of rents. The trial court, finding that Defendant owed the Town taxes, granted the petition and authorized the receiver to collect all rents or use and occupancy payments. The court subsequently modified its order to allow the receiver to evict the tenant and to bring an action against the tenant for all rents due. The tenant moved to remove the receiver, asserting that the receiver had exceeded its authority under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-163a by serving it with a notice to quit and by bring an action to collect back taxes and prior rents. The court denied the motion for removal. The Appellate Court (1) reversed insofar as the trial court granted the receiver’s motion to modify the receivership orders, but (2) affirmed insofar as it denied the tenant’s motion to remove the receiver. The Supreme Court (1) reversed as to the reversal of the trial court’s judgment granting the receiver’s motion for modification, holding that section 12-163a does authorize a receiver to use legal process to collect rent due prior to the date of the receiver’s appointment; and (2) otherwise affirmed. View "Canton v. Cadle Props. of Conn., Inc." on Justia Law

By Justia Inc
While living at Mayor Wright Homes, a federally-subsidized Public housing project owned and operated by Hawai’i Public Housing Authority (HPHA), Fetu Kolio misappropriated approximately $1,400 in Mayor Wright Homes Tenant Association funds. HPHA evicted Kolio, asserting that Kolio’s theft of the funds violated a term in his lease that stated that a tenant shall not engage in any “criminal activity” that “threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment” of the housing premises. The circuit court and intermediate court of appeals affirmed the Eviction Board’s order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) HPHA failed to carry its burden of showing that Kolio’s theft threatened the health, safety, or peaceful enjoyment of the premises; and (2) Kolio’s theft did not meet the definition of criminal activity given in Hawai’i Administrative Rules 17-2020. View "Kolio v. Hawaii Pub. Housing Auth." on Justia Law

By Justia Inc
In anticipation of renting an apartment from Sheldon Ashby, Jennifer Roussel gave Ashby a security deposit. Roussel never moved into the apartment and sought the return of her security deposit. When Ashby did not respond to Roussel’s demand for a refund, Roussel filed a complaint against Ashby. The superior court entered default against Ashby and entered judgment for Roussel in the amount of $24,628. Roussel appealed, and Ashby cross-appealed the denial of his motion to set aside the default. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in (1) declining to aware punitive damages to Roussel; (2) denying Roussel’s motion to amend the judgment by awarding additional attorney fees; and (3) denying Ashby’s motion to set aside the default. View "Roussel v. Ashby" on Justia Law

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Arthur Kinnan lived in a residence as part of a substance abuse treatment program operated by Sitka Counseling. Funding for that program ended, and Sitka Counseling informed Kinnan that he would be required to vacate. Kinnan filed suit against Sitka Counseling and two of its staff members, unsuccessfully alleging several torts based on the defendants’ conduct when removing him from the premises, violations of Alaska’s Landlord Tenant Act, and deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Kinnan argued on appeal to the Supreme Court that the superior court wrongfully denied a continuance to allow him to seek counsel, wrongfully excluded the testimony of a late-disclosed witness and two affidavits, and improperly facilitated questioning regarding Kinnan’s mental disability. The Supreme Court concluded that any error resulting from the exclusion of Kinnan’s witness was harmless and saw no abuse of discretion in the superior court’s denial of Kinnan’s continuance, its exclusion of the affidavits as hearsay, or its consideration of Kinnan’s mental disability. Furthermore, the Court also rejected Kinnan’s argument that the superior court’s adverse rulings created an appearance of judicial bias. View "Kinnan v. Sitka Counseling" on Justia Law

By Justia Inc
After a late night out, Jillian Groh brought a group of friends back to a room she rented at the Westin Hotel. Security guards confronted the group about the noise level in the room, and ultimately evicted them, even though Groh and her companions advised the guards they were drunk and could not drive. On the way out, one of the friends asked if the group could wait in the lobby for a taxi (because it was cold outside). The guard blocked the door. Seven people then got into Groh's car, with a drunk driver behind the wheel. Fifteen miles away they rear-ended another vehicle, resulting in a crash that killed one man and left Groh in a persistent vegetative state with traumatic brain injuries. Groh's parents sued the Westin for their daughter's injuries, because of the manner in which the security guards evicted her. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was one of first impression: what duty of care, if any, does a hotel owe a guest during a lawful eviction? A divided appellate panel held that the hotel had a duty to evict a guest "in a reasonable manner," noting that this precludes ejecting a guest into a "foreseeably dangerous circumstance" that result from either the guest's condition or the environment. It also held that the Colorado Dram Shop Act did not apply because the hotel did not serve Groh alcohol. The Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court's analysis, and affirmed. View "Westin Operator, LLC v. Groh" on Justia Law

By Justia Inc
Petitioner Barbara Jordan sued respondent Panorama Orthopedics and Spine Center, PC for negligence and premises liability. After receiving medical treatment at the Center, Jordan tripped over uneven sidewalk slabs near Panorama's main entrance. She fell and suffered a concussion and an orbital fracture. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether the Colorado pRemises Liability Act (PLA) applied to a commercial tenant defendant for injuries plaintiff sustained in a common area. Specifically, the case turned on whether the tenant qualified as a "landowner" under the PLA. A jury ultimately found in favor of petitioner. The clinic appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed. After its review, the Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court, concluding that because the clinic neither was in possession of the sidewalk where petitioner fell, it was not legally responsible for the condition of the sidewalk or for the activities conducted or circumstances existing there, so it was not a landowner as defined by the PLA. View "Jordan v. Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Ctr., PC" on Justia Law

By Justia Inc
Tenant was the successor lessee to a thirty-year lease on a commercial property in Brattleboro. The lease was executed in 1987. The lease established a basic annual rent of $26,500 in paragraph 8, and then set forth how the rent would increase in subsequent years. Pursuant to the rent-increase provision, each year landlords calculated the annual rent increase and sent a notice to tenant. The increase was calculated as the percentage change in the CPI from the previous year to the current year multiplied by the previous year's rent. This increase was then added to the prior year's rent to arrive at the new annual rent. In March 2007, tenant assumed the lease. From 2008 to 2012, landlords sent rent-increase notices and tenant paid rent annually adjusted for increases, calculated according to this method, without objection. In 2013, landlords sent the annual rent increase notice to tenants. The notice reflected the new 2013 rent as $54,060. Tenant objected to the amount of rent and the calculation method for rental increases. The parties were unable to resolve their dispute, and tenant filed an action seeking both a declaration that its interpretation of the lease language was correct and damages for overpaid rent. Tenant appealed the court's order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant landlords on the parties' dispute concerning a rental-increase provision of the lease. Tenant argued on appeal that the court erred in using extrinsic evidence to interpret a portion of the lease tenant believed was unambiguous, and in reaching an inequitable result. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "B&C Management Vermont, Inc. v. John, Ringey & Beck" on Justia Law