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The Supreme Court held that a general appearance after the entry of a final judgment that is void ab initio because of the absence of personal jurisdiction does not, by itself, convert the prior void judgment into a valid one. A landlord obtained a default judgment against a commercial tenant and its guarantor for unpaid rent. The judgment was void as to the guarantor because the landlord failed properly to serve the complaint on him. The circuit court, however, found that the guarantor had entered a general appearance during post-judgment enforcement proceedings and thereby waived any objection to the validity of the default judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in denying the guarantor’s motion to vacate the default judgment because the judgment was void as to the guarantor. View "McCulley v. Brooks & Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court entered in favor of Kohner Properties, Inc. in this rent-and-possession action, holding that circuit courts may exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis to determine whether an in custodia legis procedure is appropriate in a particular case. On appeal, Johnson argued that the circuit court erred in barring her from asserting the implied warranty of habitability as an affirmative defense and counterclaim because she remained in possession of the premises without depositing her unpaid rent to the circuit court in custodia legis. In making its ruling, the circuit court relied on the in custodia legis procedure in King v. Moorehead, 495 S.W.2d 65 (Mo. App. 1973). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that although the in custodia legis procedure in King was dicta, that was immaterial because such dicta has been “dutifully followed by our circuit courts for almost five decades” and therefore constituted the status quo in Missouri. The Court went on to hold that, given the absence of contrary authority from the Court or contrary legislation from the General Assembly, the circuit court could not be faulted for relying on King when it barred Johnson’s affirmative defense and counterclaim. View "Kohner Properties, Inc. v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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A landlord can not be held liable to a commercial tenant for damage to the tenant's property resulting from an alleged sewer backup when the tenant (who had a month-to-month tenancy in the premises after her lease expired) had stopped paying rent, had been served (but failed to comply) with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit, and had been named in an unlawful detainer action filed before the alleged sewer backup occurred. In this case, the month-to-month tenancy was terminated by the tenant's failure to pay rent coupled with the landlord's filing of the wrongful detainer action. Therefore, as of the filing of the wrongful detainer action, the Court of Appeal held that the tenant was a tenant at sufferance who had no lawful right to possession of the premises. The court held that the landlord was not liable for damage to the tenant's property left on the premises when that damage was not caused by the landlord's intentional act or negligence. The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. View "Multani v. Knight" on Justia Law

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Reilly and two daughters moved into a Novato apartment in 1998. They received Section 8 housing assistance payments. In 2004 one daughter moved out, but Reilly failed to inform the Marin Housing Authority (MHA) of her departure. Five years later, when Reilly told MHA that this daughter no longer lived with her, MHA informed Reilly that her failure to report the departure earlier was a violation of program rules and that she had to pay damages of $16,011. Reilly and MHA agreed to monthly payments; they revised the plan several times, eventually reducing Reilly’s obligation to $150 per month. Reilly missed multiple payments. Reilly requested that MHA recalculate her rent and exclude her income from the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, which compensates those who care for aged, blind, or disabled individuals incapable of caring for themselves. Reilly’s daughter suffers from a severe developmental disability. MHA proposed termination of her Section 8 voucher. Reilly argued that MHA improperly included her IHSS payments as income. A hearing officer upheld MHA’s decision to terminate Reilly’s housing voucher. The trial court and court of appeal affirmed. The IHSS money Reilly receives is “income” within the meaning of HUD regulations; MHA should include it in calculating Reilly’s housing assistance payment. View "Reilly v. Marin Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s final judgment against a Lessee and its guarantor in this action brought by the Lessor seeking unpaid rent under a fifteen-year lease after the Lessee vacated the leasehold prior to the expiration of the fifteen-year term. After this action was filed, the Lessee demurred, arguing that the lease was unenforceable under the Statute of Conveyances because it did not contain a seal as required by the common law for a deed or one of the substitutes for a seal available under Va. Code 11-3. The trial court overruled the demurrer and entered judgment against the Lessee. The Supreme Court reversed and entered final judgment in favor of the Lessee and its guarantor, holding that the fifteen-year lease was unenforceable as a matter of law because the lease violated the Statute of Conveyances and the common-law seal requirement. View "The Game Place, LLC v. Fredericksburg 35, LLC" on Justia Law

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In the second appeal regarding this Landlord-Tenant dispute involving the eviction of Tenant from Landlord’s condominium, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) failed adequately to address the district court’s denial of what Tenant called his “implicit counterclaim” for retaliatory eviction. In 2008, the district court issued a writ of possession to Landlord, which was executed against Tenant. The ICA vacated the district court’s ruling in part and remanded. The ICA affirmed the district court’s decision on remand except as to an award of attorney fees to Landlord. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the ICA and the district court, holding that Tenant properly raised a counterclaim of retaliatory eviction in his original answer, even though it was not denominated as such. Because the ICA on the second appeal did not determine as much, this case must be remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Tenant to proceed on the counterclaim in his original answer and to allow Landlord to assert any relevant defenses. View "Ryan v. Herzog" on Justia Law

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In the second appeal regarding this Landlord-Tenant dispute involving the eviction of Tenant from Landlord’s condominium, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) failed adequately to address the district court’s denial of what Tenant called his “implicit counterclaim” for retaliatory eviction. In 2008, the district court issued a writ of possession to Landlord, which was executed against Tenant. The ICA vacated the district court’s ruling in part and remanded. The ICA affirmed the district court’s decision on remand except as to an award of attorney fees to Landlord. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the ICA and the district court, holding that Tenant properly raised a counterclaim of retaliatory eviction in his original answer, even though it was not denominated as such. Because the ICA on the second appeal did not determine as much, this case must be remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Tenant to proceed on the counterclaim in his original answer and to allow Landlord to assert any relevant defenses. View "Ryan v. Herzog" on Justia Law

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The General Assembly did not intent to abrogate existing common law causes of action when it enacted Va. Code 8.01-226.12, which sets forth some obligations and immunities for landlords and managing agents when visible mold occurs. Tenants filed a multi-count complaint alleging that one of the tenants suffered damages after being exposed to mold in their apartment. The trial court dismissed two counts of the complaint that were based on the common law, concluding that the General Assembly intended to abrogate the application of all common law claims for personal injury involving landlord/tenant relationships. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 8.01-226.12 does not implicitly repeal or modify any common law causes of action that are beyond the plain language of the statute. View "Cherry v. Lawson Realty Corp." on Justia Law

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Harrison, an owner of two commercial apartments within a mixed-use development project managed by Casa, sued, alleging she was improperly assessed for expenses that should have been charged only to residential apartment owners, related to elevators, lanai railings, drains, cable television, and pest control. The circuit court granted summary judgment in Casa’s favor, concluding that the disputed assessments were not for limited common elements exclusive to the residential apartments, but were for common elements, and were, therefore, expenses for which Harrison must pay her pro rata share. The circuit court further concluded Harrison was estopped from disputing the expenses because she knew or should have known that Casa had been assessing her for the disputed items for quite some time. The Supreme Court of Hawaii vacated and remanded. Citing the Restated Declaration of Horizontal Property Regime and Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 514A and the declaration of condominium ownership, the court held that the elevators and lanai railings are limited common elements and that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the drains and cable television wires are common elements. Harrison is not responsible for expenses of limited common elements. The court rejected the claim of estoppel. View "Harrison v. Casa De Emdeko, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2003, Altman subleased from Rider, the apartment's tenant since 1993. Rider had a rent-stabilized lease at $1,829.49 per month. In 2004, the landlord commenced a nonpayment proceeding against both men. Altman and the landlord entered into a settlement, agreeing that Rider would surrender all rights to the apartment and the landlord would deliver a new lease to Altman. A "Deregulation Rider," stating that the apartment was not rent-stabilized "because the legal rent was or became $2000 or more on vacancy" after the statutory vacancy increase was added to the last regulated rent. The landlord removed the apartment from registration based on "high rent vacancy." Defendant purchased the premises and, in 2007, entered into a fair market renewal lease with Altman at $2,600 per month. Altman agreed to refrain from challenging the nonregulated status of the apartment. Beginning in 2008, the owner commenced a series of nonpayment proceedings against Altman. Altman did not challenge the apartment's deregulated status. In 2014, Altman sought a declaration that the premises are subject to rent stabilization. On remand, the Supreme Court held that, although the owner was entitled to a 20% rent increase for Altman's initial lease, that increase did not deregulate the apartment. The New York Court of Appeals reversed. The 20% vacancy increase should be included when calculating the regulated rent to determine whether an apartment has reached the $2,000 deregulation threshold in the Rent Stabilization Law, section 26-511 [c]. View "Altman v 285 W. Fourth LLC" on Justia Law