Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries
Wild Meadows MHC, LLC v. Weidman
Appellant Wild Meadows MHC, LLC challenged the Superior Court’s dismissal of its petition for a writ of prohibition. The Wild Meadows manufactured home community (the “Community”) owned by Appellant, was located in Dover, Delaware. The Community was governed by the Manufactured Home Owners and Community Owners Act and its subsection commonly known as the Rent Justification Act (the “Act”). Appellee Intervenor/Respondent Wild Meadows Homeowners’ Association (the “HOA”) represented these homeowners. Multiple homeowners rejected Wild Meadows’ rent increase and, through the HOA, filed a petition with the Delaware Manufactured Home Relocation Authority (the “Authority”). The Authority appointed Appellee David J. Weidman, Esquire as the arbitrator under the Act. Before the scheduled arbitration, the HOA requested financial information from Wild Meadows relating to the Community’s recent revenue and costs. Wild Meadows refused to provide this information. The HOA moved to compel discovery and a motion for summary judgment with Weidman. In his initial decision, Weidman granted discovery of any financial documents that Wild Meadows intended to rely upon at arbitration, but he denied the HOA’s motion to compel the production of additional financial documents from Wild Meadows. Determining he could compel discover, Weidman ordered Wild Meadows to submit a proposed confidentiality agreement, and ordered the HOA to submit any comments on the draft. After taking both parties' comments into consideration, Weidman issued a final confidentiality agreement, rejecting many of the changes the HOA proposed. Wild Meadows refused to sign the confidentiality agreement and filed the underlying application for a writ of prohibition in the Superior Court. Wild Meadows argued to the Delaware Supreme Court that the Superior Court erroneously held that the arbitrator appointed under Delaware’s Rent Justification Act had authority to compel discovery and impose a confidentiality agreement upon parties concerning discovery material. Finding no reversible error in the Superior Court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wild Meadows MHC, LLC v. Weidman" on Justia Law
Peviani v. Arbors at California Oaks Property Owner
In a fifth amended class action complaint, plaintiffs Kelly Peviani, Judy Rudolph, and Zachary Rudolph, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, sued defendants Arbors at California Oaks Property Owner, LLC and JRK Residential Group, Inc. Plaintiffs alleged “Defendants advertise with colorful brochures and promising language that the Property is a safe, habitable, and luxurious place to live, with numerous amenities including a playground, cabanas and lounges, tennis and basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, gym, and pools and heated spas. But the Property is nothing of the kind. Instead, the Property is littered with used condoms, drug use, broken security gates, violence, is devoid of security patrols, and police are called to the complex on a regular basis. The pools are dirty, and the fitness equipment is broken. The complex is unsafe for tenants, especially children, and does not deliver on its material promises.” The complaint included eight causes of action: (1) false advertising; (2) breach of the implied warranty of habitability; (3) nuisance; (4) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (5) bad faith retention of security deposits; and (6) three causes of action for unfair competition. Plaintiffs moved for certification of two classes, but the trial court denied the motion. Plaintiffs contended on appeal the trial court erred by denying their class certification motion. In regard to the false advertising claim, the trial court denied class certification due to a lack of commonality that would, in turn, cause the class to be unmanageable. After review of the trial court record, the Court of Appeal determined the trial court's commonality finding was flawed, making its related conclusion pertaining to manageability unreliable. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Peviani v. Arbors at California Oaks Property Owner" on Justia Law
Tiger Lily, LLC v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
The March 2020 “CARES Act,” 134 Stat. 281, included a 120-day moratorium on eviction filings based on nonpayment of rent for tenants residing in certain federally financed rental properties, which expired in July 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director unilaterally issued the “Halt Order” declaring a new moratorium, halting evictions of certain “covered persons” through December 31, 2020, purportedly based on authority found in Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 264, which provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the power to “make and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases.” Congress subsequently passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which extended that Halt Order from December 31 to January 31, 134 Stat. 1182. Just before that statutory extension lapsed, the CDC Director issued a new directive extending the order through March 31, 2021, again relying on the generic rulemaking power arising from the Public Health Service Act.Landlords sued. The district court held that the Halt Order exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority. The Sixth Circuit declined to stay the order. Congressional acquiescence in the CDC’s assertion that the Halt Order was supported by the Act does not make it so; the plain text of that provision indicates otherwise. View "Tiger Lily, LLC v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development" on Justia Law
Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc.
In this Fair Housing Act of 1968 case, plaintiff's claims stemmed from his neighbor's verbal attacks and attempted intimidation of plaintiff based on his race. The principal question presented to the en banc court is whether a plaintiff states a claim under the Act and parallel state statutes for intentional discrimination by alleging that his landlord failed to respond to reported race-based harassment by a fellow tenant.The en banc court concluded that landlords cannot be presumed to have the degree of control over tenants that would be necessary to impose liability under the FHA for tenant-on-tenant misconduct. In this case, plaintiff failed to state a claim that the KPM Defendants intentionally discriminated against him on the basis of race in violation of the FHA, Sections 1981 and 1982, or the New York State Human Rights Law. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to state a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress against the KPM Defendants under New York law. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law
H&B Realty, LLC v. JJ Cars, LLC
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Business and Consumer Docket in favor of JJ Cars, LLC and John Mokarzel on H&B Realty, LLC's complaint for breach of contract, holding that there was no error in the court's judgment.The lower court determined that H&B breached the lease in this case by unreasonably withholding consent to a proposed sublease. On appeal, H&B argued that the court erred in applying the affirmative defenses, as pleaded by JJ Cars and Mokarzel, of breach of contract and failure to mitigate damages. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there was competent record evidence to support the court's finding that H&B materially breached the lease by refusing to consent to sublet the property. View "H&B Realty, LLC v. JJ Cars, LLC" on Justia Law
Tech Landing LLC v. JLH Ventures LLC
In 2013, Tech Landing, LLC leased a building to JLH Ventures, LLC (“JLH”) to operate a paintball business. After the building burned down in 2017, Tech Landing sued JLH, alleging breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and negligence. The breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims involved payment of rent after the building was destroyed and the failure to insure the building against fire loss. Those claims were dismissed by stipulation of the parties and were not at issue here. With respect to its negligence claim, Tech Landing alleged the fire was caused by the negligence of JLH. After ruling certain opinions of Tech Landing’s expert witnesses were inadmissible, the district court granted summary judgment to JLH. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s ruling on the admissibility of the expert opinions, but reversed its grant of summary judgment because there were genuine issues of material fact that had to be decided by a jury. View "Tech Landing LLC v. JLH Ventures LLC" on Justia Law
Lewis v. Howard L. Allen Investments, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court granting summary judgment dismissing Kristina Lewis's negligence claims against Howard L. Allen Investments, Inc. (Allen Investments), holding that Allen Investments did not owe a duty to protect Lewis from the harm she suffered.Allen Investments sold a house under a contract of sale that required the buyers to make monthly payments for ten years. Five years into the payment period the buyers leased the house to Lewis and her fiancé. The house subsequently caught fire, causing Lewis to suffer serious injuries. Lewis brought this negligence action against the buyers and Allen Investments. The district court granted summary judgment for Allen Investments, concluding that the company, as a contract seller, owed no duty to Lewis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Allen Investments was not the landlord of the property under Iowa's Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Iowa Code chapter 562A; and (2) Allen Investments owed no duty of care to Lewis to maintain the property. View "Lewis v. Howard L. Allen Investments, Inc." on Justia Law
Zuniga v. Cherry Avenue Auction, Inc.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of plaintiff in an action brought against defendants, the owners and operators of an outdoor swap meet, where plaintiff and her husband rented two vendor spaces. When plaintiff and her husband were setting up their booth, a 28-foot metal pole holding their advertising banner touched an overhead power line. Plaintiff and her husband were electrocuted, and he died. A jury found that defendants were 77.5 percent at fault and plaintiff's damages totaled $12.25 million. Defendants contend that they owe no duty of care to plaintiff because the danger presented by the overhead power line was open and obvious.The court concluded that the evidence presented in this case did not establish as a matter of law that the danger was open and obvious. The court explained that it was not obvious that the line was uninsulated, that it was energized, or that the amount of electricity being transmitted was lethal. Therefore, a warning would not have been superfluous; it would have provided information that was not obvious. The court also concluded that, because no workers' compensation insurance covered the injuries to plaintiff and her husband, the Privette doctrine should not be extended to the landlord-tenant relationship that existed in this case. View "Zuniga v. Cherry Avenue Auction, Inc." on Justia Law
Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Ass’n v. City of Omaha, Nebraska
Plaintiffs filed suit against the City, alleging that the Rental Property Registration and Inspection Ordinance violated their constitutional rights, breached their consent decree with the City, and violated the Fair Housing Act. The Ordinance implemented uniform residential rental property registration, and a regular inspection program that is phased in accordance with the history of code violations on each property, requiring all rental properties in the City to register with the Permits and Inspections Division before leasing to tenants. The district court denied a preliminary injunction and dismissed plaintiffs' claims.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the Ordinance does not violate Metro Omaha's constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Applying the Nebraska Supreme Court's rules of construction, the court concluded that the plain text of the Ordinance does not authorize warrantless inspections of properties if consent is withheld. Furthermore, pre-compliance review before inspections does not apply here where inspections are permitted only if there is consent, a warrant, or court order. Finally, by withholding consent, property owners are not subject to criminal liability or prohibited from renting their property.The court also concluded that the Ordinance is not unconstitutionally vague in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The court explained that the Ordinance provides adequate notice of the proscribed conduct and does not lend itself to arbitrary enforcement. The court further concluded that Metro Omaha fails to plausibly plead a breach of the consent decree, and that the Ordinance does not violate the Fair Housing Act. View "Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Ass'n v. City of Omaha, Nebraska" on Justia Law
Boshernitsan v. Bach
Appellants filed an unlawful detainer action against the tenants, seeking to evict them under a provision of San Francisco's rent control ordinance that allows a "landlord" to evict renters from a unit to make the unit available for a close relative of the landlord (the family move-in provision), Rent Ordinance, section 37.9(a)(8)(ii).The Court of Appeal concluded that, in sustaining the demurrer, the trial court correctly ruled that a trust is not a "natural person." However, the trial court was mistaken in assuming that appellants' trust is the landlord. The court explained that, as a matter of law, only trustees—not trusts—can hold legal title to property. The court held that natural persons who are acting as trustees of a revocable living trust and are also the trust's settlors and beneficiaries qualify as a "landlord" under the family move-in provision. Therefore, the court reversed the trial court's judgment in favor of the tenants, because appellants are not barred from seeking to evict the tenants under that provision. The court remanded with directions to enter a new order overruling the demurrer. View "Boshernitsan v. Bach" on Justia Law