Justia Landlord – Tenant Opinion Summaries

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The property owners, participants in the “Section 8” federal rental assistance program (42 U.S.C. 1437f(a)), sued the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for allegedly breaching the contracts that governed payments to the owners under the program, by failing to approve automatic rent increases for certain years, by requiring the owners to submit comparability studies in order to receive increases, and by arbitrarily reducing the increases for non-turnover units by one percent. Because Wisconsin Housing receives all of its Section 8 funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Authority filed a third-party breach of contract claim against HUD. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Wisconsin Housing and dismissed the claims against HUD as moot. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the owners’ Section 8 contracts were renewed after the challenged requirements became part of the program. “The doctrine of disproportionate forfeiture simply does not apply,” and Wisconsin Housing did not breach any contracts by requiring rent comparability studies in certain circumstances or by applying a one percent reduction for non-turnover units. View "Evergreen Square of Cudahy v. Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority" on Justia Law

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Shalizi purchased an apartment building and wanted to move into unit four. Geraghty had been renting unit four for 22 years and was paying $938 a month. Shalizi’s attorney sent a letter informing Geragthy that Shalizi intended to commence an owner move-in eviction (Ellis Act “no fault” eviction), but suggested a voluntary buyout agreement. Shalizi and Geragthy entered into an agreement that promised Geraghty $25,000 and gave him several months to depart. Geraghty released Shalizi from “any and all claims which have or may have arisen from Tenant’s occupancy of the Premises at any time or any and all claims related to the Premises, including, but not limited to, claims for wrongful eviction, non-compliance with or violations of the provisions of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance [SFRRSAO] and Rules and Regulations, . . . [or the] right to reoccupy the Premises.” Geraghty vacated and Shalizi paid. Shalizi began $70,000 in renovations and occupied the unit. Months later, Shalizi lost his job. Months later, Shalizi found new work, but had to relocate. He rented unit four to a new tenant for $3,700 a month. After discovering Shalizi was again renting out unit four, Geraghty sued for violation of the San Francisco rent ordinance, negligence, fraud, and rescission. The trial court granted Shalizi summary judgment. The court of appeal affirmed, finding Geraghty’s waiver valid and enforceable. View "Geraghty v. Shalizi" on Justia Law

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Bahig Bishay brought an action bringing various claims arising from Plaintiff’s eviction from his home. Bishay named as defendants National Investigations, Inc. and its principals (collectively, National), Harvard 45 Associates, LLC and its principals (collectively, Harvard), and Allied Finance Adjusters Conference, Inc. (Allied). Allied’s motion to dismiss was allowed. Also allowed was Harvard’s motion for summary judgment as to both the claims against it and a counterclaim it asserted against Bishay. Thereafter, Bishay and National (collectively, Petitioners) settled their dispute and moved for entry of final judgment. The motion was denied. Petitioners then filed a petition seeking relief in the nature of mandamus and requesting that the clerk of the superior court be ordered to enter final judgment as Petitioners proposed. A single justice denied relief without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice neither erred nor abused her discretion by denying extraordinary relief, as Petitioners had other remedies available to them. View "Bishay v. Clerk of the Superior Court in Norfolk County" on Justia Law

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Tenants Michael Brown and Jill Wahleithner received a notice of eviction from landlords Stephen Faciszewski and Virginia Klamon, invoking Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 22.206.160(C)(1)(e). In accordance with that provision, the notice stated Landlords were terminating the tenancy because "[Landlords] seek to possess the Property so that at least one immediate family member (or, in the alternative, one of us) may occupy the [Seattle] Property as a principal residence." Landlords subsequently clarified that Faciszewski's parents would be moving into the house so that Faciszewski could care for his ailing father. Following his father's death, Faciszewski indicated that only his mother planned to move into the house. Because of an earlier dispute, Tenants believed that Landlords' stated reason was pretext. Tenants thus began researching Faciszewski's parents on the Internet and found that Faciszewski's mother: (1) owned a home in Colorado that was not listed for sale or for rent; (2) she was scheduled to teach a class at a Colorado center in the fall; (3) she volunteered at a Colorado hospital for many years and continued to do so; and ( 4) she had not informed the center or the hospital of any plans to move. Citing this information, Tenants complained to the City, and in response Landlords filed with the City a certification of intent to carry out the stated reason. Because the certification provided that "[Faciszewski] or/and ... his mother" would occupy the property, Tenants continued to believe Landlords' stated reason was a pretext. Accordingly, Tenants refused to comply. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review was whether the trial court could consider evidence challenging just cause once the landlord filed the certification allowed under Seattle Municipal Code 22.206.160(C)(4). The court commissioner presiding over the show cause hearing set the matter for trial after determining that there were issues of fact as to the landlords' stated reason for the eviction. The King County Superior Court revised the commissioner's ruling, issued a writ of restitution restoring possession of the property to the landlords, and struck the trial date because "the statutory scheme does not require ... a trial once [the landlord files a] statement under penalty of perjury." The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the law afforded the tenant to contest the eviction at the show cause hearing. View "Faciszewski v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Landlord Beach Break Equities, LLC. (Beach Break) filed an unlawful detainer action against tenant Martin Lowell. The court granted Beach Break's summary judgment motion on the possession issue, and issued a writ of possession (reserving damage issues). Lowell appealed the possession order to the appellate division of the superior court (appellate division). While the appeal was pending, Beach Break evicted Lowell under the authority of the writ of possession. The appellate division reversed the possession order, finding triable issues of fact on the possession issue and remanded for a trial. In so doing, the appellate division expressly ordered that Lowell was entitled to seek restitution for any damages caused by the premature eviction. After the matter was transferred to an unlimited civil department, the trial court ruled Lowell was not entitled to a restitution hearing because he had not filed an affirmative cross-complaint. Over Lowell's objection, Beach Break then dismissed its action and the court entered a final judgment. Lowell appealed. After review, the Court of Appeal determined the trial court erred in denying Lowell's request for a hearing on his restitution claim. Under settled law, Lowell was entitled to a restitution hearing even without filing a cross-complaint. View "Beach Break Equities v. Lowell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this class action against his former landlord (Landlord) alleging that Landlord violated several provisions of the Massachusetts Security Deposit Law by impermissibly deducting certain charges from his security deposit and failing to return the deposit within thirty days after he moved out of his leased apartment. Plaintiff sought recovery under the Security Deposit Law’s penalty provision, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 186, 15B(7), which includes the availability of treble damages. The district court concluded that Plaintiff was entitled to recover his security deposit but was not entitled to recovery under section 15B(7), and denied Plaintiff’s class certification motion on mootness grounds. The First Circuit certified a question regarding the relevant provisions of the Massachusetts Security Deposit Law to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and refrained from deciding the merits of Plaintiff’s other claims until that question was resolved. View "Phillips v. Equity Residential Management, LLC" on Justia Law

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In September 2003, Bachner Company Inc. entered into a contract with the Alaska Department of Administration, to lease portions of the Denali Building in Fairbanks. After a ten-year lease term and a one-year renewal, Bachner alleged that the State was in default on its rent payments, and it filed suit in superior court to recover. The State moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the claim was governed by the Alaska State Procurement Code and that Bachner had failed to exhaust its remedies under the code before filing suit. The superior court agreed and granted the State’s motion to dismiss. Bachner appealed. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the procurement code covered a rent dispute over an ongoing lease, that the Bachner's claim fell under the procurement code, and Bachner had to exhaust its administrative remedies before filing suit in superior court. View "Bachner Company Incorporated v. State, Dept. of Administration" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case is a lease for a Gap store in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Gap argues that the lease does not require it to pay for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) expenses and a share of mall operation costs. GK, the mall's management company and owner, disagreed. The district court issued a declaratory judgment in favor of Gap. The court concluded that GK waived the argument that Gap owes it for HVAC expenses under Article 10(B) of the lease. The court also concluded that, reading the ambiguous lease language in conjunction with the extrinsic evidence, a rational factfinder can reach only one conclusion in this case: The parties intended that Gap not be obligated to pay for Center Expenses for the duration of the lease. Because GK points to no evidence that its past HVAC charges were established under Article 11(C), this modification does not affect the district court’s determination that GK breached the lease or its damages award. Accordingly, the court affirmed, modified in part, and remanded the district court's judgment. View "The Gap, Inc. v. GK Development, Inc." on Justia Law

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The parties are involved in a dispute over a 12-year commercial lease of office space in Baltimore, Maryland. NCO, the lessee, claims that it properly exercised a right of early termination of the lease and that, during the course of the lease, it was overcharged for rent based on erroneous calculations of the space’s square footage. Montgomery Park, the lessor, claims that NCO failed to satisfy the lease’s specific conditions for early termination and that NCO now owes rent for the remainder of the lease term. The court reversed the district court’s ruling that NCO effectively exercised the right of early termination, and affirmed its ruling rejecting NCO’s overcharge claims. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings on Montgomery Park’s claim that NCO breached the lease agreement in failing to pay rent. View "NCO Financial Systems, Inc. v. Montgomery Park, LLC" on Justia Law

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Under the rent escrow statute, if a tenant is successful in showing that a landlord was aware of certain conditions or defects in the rental property and failed to correct them, the tenant may be entitled to an abatement or reduction of the rent or other relief. Landlord in this case filed a summary ejectment action against Tenant to collect unpaid rent and to regain possession of the unit. During trial, Tenant attempted to submit evidence of alleged defects in the rental property. The circuit court declined to accept the proffered evidence, concluding that it would be relevant only in an affirmative rent escrow action, which, according to the court, must be filed as a separate action. The circuit court proceeded to enter judgment in favor of Landlord. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment, holding that Tenant could present her evidence and contentions under the rent escrow statute in defense of the summary ejectment action brought by Landlord and was not required to present them in a separate action. Remanded. View "Cane v. EZ Rentals" on Justia Law