Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

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In this summary ejectment proceeding, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the judgment of the district court precluding Tenant from asserting and litigating defenses under the implied warranty of habitability and the rent escrow statutes, holding that Tenant was statutorily entitled to raise such defenses during the proceeding and to have them fully considered. Landlord brought his summary ejectment proceeding alleging that Tenant had failed to pay rent for five months and seeking repossession of the property. Tenant moved to dismiss the complaint on grounds that Landlord did not have use and occupancy permit, which the district court denied. Tenant also attempted to assert defenses to summary ejectment, which the district court denied. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court properly denied the motion to dismiss; but (2) a claim for breach of the warranty of habitability or under the rent escrow statutes may be raised as a defense in a summary ejectment proceeding. View "Pettiford v. Next Generation Trust Service" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the judgment of the Housing Court for Landlord on its summary process complaint and affirmed the denial of relief on Tenants' counterclaims, holding that Landlord's summary process complaint must be dismissed because the summons and complaint were served within fourteen days of Tenants' receipt of the notice to quit. Landlord brought this summary process action against Tenants seeking to recover possession of the premises at issue and damages for unpaid rent. Tenants filed several counterclaims. The judge ordered judgment for Tenants on two counterclaims and awarded nominal damages. The parties later filed cross appeals. The Appeals Court dismissed Tenants' appeal on timeliness grounds. The Supreme Judicial Court granted further appellate review and held (1) Tenants' appeal was timely; (2) because the summary process proceeding was commenced before the fourteen-day deadline had come and gone, judgment must enter for Tenants; and (3) the judge did not err in denying relief on Tenants' counterclaims. View "Youghal, LLC v. Entwistle" on Justia Law

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Big Pines, LLC, appealed from a district court order denying its “Motion for Award of Attorneys’ Fees and Costs.” Phoenix M.D., L.L.C., as landlord, entered into a lease agreement for real property with Biron D. Baker Family Medicine PC, as tenant, on May 3, 2011. The lease began on June 15, 2011, and ended on June 14, 2016. At the same time the lease was entered, Biron Baker signed a personal guaranty agreement making him personally liable for a breach of the terms of the lease. Under the guaranty, the landlord was also entitled to recover “all costs and attorneys’ fees incurred in attempting to realize upon [the guaranty].” In August 2016, Big Pines, LLC purchased the property formerly leased by Baker Medicine from Phoenix. The guaranty agreement was not specifically mentioned in the assignment agreement. However, the assignment stated a copy of the “Lease Agreement” was attached to the assignment as “Exhibit A.” In March 2017, Big Pines contacted Baker regarding damages to the property in violation of the terms of the lease that resulted from Baker Medicine’s tenancy. Baker denied any responsibility and refused to pay for the alleged damages. Big Pines filed suit against Baker and Baker Medicine in February 2018 claiming the property damages resulted from Baker Medicine’s tenancy and were in violation of the terms of the lease. The case proceeded to trial, and at trial a jury found Baker and Baker Medicine liable for breaching the terms of the lease and awarded $18,750.00 in damages to Big Pines. Big Pines filed a post-trial motion under N.D.R.Civ.P. 54(e)(3) requesting the district court award Big Pines its attorney’s fees for having to bring suit against Baker and Baker Medicine for breaching the terms of the lease. Finding that the district court erred in interpreting the lease and guaranty as separate agreements, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the district court which denied the attorneys' fees. View "Big Pines v. Baker, et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant Nicholas Saykaly appealed a circuit court order issuing a writ of possession to plaintiff, Amanda Colburn. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear plaintiff’s landlord-tenant action because the home in question was marital property subject to the parties’ ongoing divorce proceeding, and because defendant was not a “tenant” of the plaintiff. He contended the circuit court's Family Division had exclusive jurisdiction over the home until either the divorce proceeding was finalized or the family division relinquished jurisdiction over the home. Because it concluded the district division had jurisdiction to hear and decide this case, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Colburn v. Saykaly" on Justia Law

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Defendant Centennial Estates Cooperative, Inc., appealed, and plaintiff, Mark DiMinico, cross-appealed a superior court order awarding declaratory and injunctive relief to plaintiff. Plaintiff was a tenant at a manufactured housing community owned by defendant. Defendant decided to improve the lot that abutted the east side of plaintiff’s lot. In order to make the lot habitable, defendant had to dig a trench and install buried electrical conduit, install a new septic system, install fill over the septic system, regrade the lot, and construct a concrete pad upon which a manufactured home could be placed. As part of this project, defendant decided to make changes to plaintiff’s lot by removing trees and vegetation on the eastern portion of plaintiff’s lot and filled in the area with truckloads of boulders and dirt, creating a six-foot berm on the lot’s eastern section. Plaintiff was not made aware of defendant’s plans to alter his lot, and did not discover the changes until after they occurred because he had been away visiting his father. Plaintiff complained to defendant’s Board of Directors, seeking to have his lot restored to its prior condition and to limit defendant’s work to the abutting lot. In response, the defendant told the plaintiff that he had no rights with respect to his lot outside of the physical footprint of his manufactured home. The trial court ruled that Defendant violated plaintiff’s right to quiet enjoyment when it deforested and regraded a portion of the lot leased by plaintiff. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Mark DiMinico v. Centennial Estates Cooperative, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition requested by Petitioners seeking to have the circuit court dismiss Nadine Rice's tort action with prejudice under W. Va. R. Civ. P. 41(b), holding that Petitioners failed to show that the circuit court's order was whether clearly erroneous as a matter of law or a flagrant abuse of its discretion. Rice sued Petitioners alleging several claims arising from her alleged negligent ejection from her home. For various reasons, Rice's case did not progress. Petitioners later moved the circuit court to dismiss the case with prejudice. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that good cause justified the delay and that the delay had not prejudiced Petitioners. Petitioners then sought an extraordinary writ to prevent the circuit court from acting beyond what they argued were the court's legitimate powers. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that Petitioner's did not show that this case was an extraordinary case requiring an extraordinary remedy. View "State ex rel. Johnson & Freedman, LLC v. Honorable Warren R. McGraw" on Justia Law

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Sandra Moscicki appealed a superior court order denying her motion to exclude expert testimony proffered by the appellees, Charles and Heidi Leno. In July 2008, the Lenos’ twin children, a boy and a girl, were born. In September 2009, the Lenos and their children moved into an apartment owned by Moscicki’s trust. Shortly thereafter, when the children were approximately eighteen months old, Heidi Leno “expressed concerns” regarding their son’s “speech and development.” Charles Leno had also observed that their son exhibited “significant developmental problems in the months before his eighteen-month checkup.” In October 2009, both children were tested for lead. The test revealed that both children had elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs). The children were again tested for lead in July 2010, shortly after their second birthday. This test revealed that they again had EBLLs, higher than previously recorded. Thereafter, the Lenos and their children moved out of Moscicki’s apartment. Moscicki brought an action against the Lenos, seeking unpaid rent. The Lenos then filed an action against Moscicki, alleging that their children suffered harm as a result of lead exposure while living in the apartment. The trial court consolidated these actions. The interlocutory question transferred to the New Hampshire Supreme Court called for the Court to decide whether for an expert opinion on causation to be admissible in a toxic tort case, the expert had to consider the “dose-response relationship” in reaching that opinion. The Supreme Court answered in the negative and remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "Moscicki v. Leno" on Justia Law

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In this forcible entry and detainer (FED) action to recover possession of a residential dwelling unit, the issue presented for the Oregon Supreme Court's consideration was whether the trial court erred in allowing landlord’s motion to amend its complaint, pursuant to ORCP 23, after the parties attended a first-appearance hearing and tenant filed her answer. In its original complaint, landlord alleged that it was entitled to possession based on a 72-hour notice - which, under ORS 90.394, could be given for nonpayment of rent - and attached that notice to its complaint. Two days before trial, landlord sought leave to amend its complaint to attach a different notice, a 30-day notice, which, under ORS 90.392, could be given “for cause,” including a material violation of the rental agreement. The Supreme Court determined the proposed amendment substantially changed landlord’s claim for relief and prejudiced tenant, and that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing it. It therefore reversed both the contrary decisions of the Court of Appeals and the trial court. View "C.O. Homes, LLC v. Cleveland" on Justia Law

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In this case, after defendants (tenants) were sued for collection of unpaid rent, they alleged a counterclaim for damages under ORS 90.360(2) on the ground that plaintiffs (landlords) had not maintained the premises in a habitable condition. The trial court dismissed that counterclaim, reasoning that tenants had failed to provide landlords with written notice of the alleged violation and had acted with “unclean hands.” The Court of Appeals affirmed on somewhat different grounds, concluding that, in light of the trial court’s findings, tenants had failed to act in good faith for purposes of ORS 90.130 and that their counterclaim was therefore barred. The Oregon Supreme Court reversed, finding that neither ORS 90.360(2) nor ORS 90.370 required written notice as a prerequisite for a tenant’s counterclaim under ORS 90.360(2). The trial court’s contrary view was erroneous. Moreover, the Supreme Court found the record from the hearing demonstrated that the trial court relied heavily on its erroneous understanding that written notice was required when it determined that tenants had not acted in good faith for purposes of ORS 90.130. Because it could not conclude that the trial court would have reached the same conclusion as to good faith even if it had correctly applied ORS 90.360(2), the matter was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Eddy v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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This case arose when Constellation filed an unlawful detainer action against World Trading, which Constellation then converted to a damages action against World Trading and World Tech Toys for breach of contract. Constellation sought damages for past-due rent, late fees, interest, failure to maintain and repair, costs incurred by not being able to use the premises, and holdover rent. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by ruling that the commercial holdover provision was an unlawful penalty. Rather, the commercial holdover provision was valid and Constellation was entitled to enforce it against World Trading. The court upheld the trial court's finding that World Tech was not jointly and severally liable as an alter ego of World Trade and remanded Constellation's estoppel and agency arguments for the trial court to decide. The court directed the trial court to include the $1,000 sanctions in the final judgment. The court otherwise affirmed the judgment and dismissed World Trading and World Tech's cross-appeal. View "Constellation-F, LLC v. World Trading 23, Inc." on Justia Law