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This appeal centered on a manufactured housing community owner’s attempt to raise the rent for its homeowner–tenants after installing a new water filtration system and commissioning a report on market rents for comparable manufactured housing communities. After the homeowners petitioned for an arbitration under the Rent Justification Act, the arbitrator concluded that the rent increase was justified. On appeal, however, the Superior Court reversed on the grounds that the community owner did not establish that the installation of the water filtration system “was an increase in its costs” or that the expenditure caused “its original expected return [to] decline[].” The community owner appealed the Superior Court’s decision. The Delaware Supreme Court found after its review of this matter that the Superior Court overruled the arbitrator’s order allowing the rent increase, finding that the community owner “would have had to offer evidence about its original costs and original expected return and how the expenditure . . . altered that relationship.” Because that reasoning grafted onto the Act a requirement that the statute did not contain, the Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court’s judgment and remanded the case for the entry of a judgment affirming the arbitrator’s order. View "Sandhill Acres MHC, LC v. Sandhill Acres Home Owners Association" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed a lower court judge's order of execution on the fifth agreement for judgment between Y.A., an alleged victim of domestic violence, and the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), a covered housing provider, holding that the motion judge failed to consider whether domestic violence contributed to Y.A.'s failure to make the agreed-upon payments. The Housing Court found that Y.A.'s failure to make required payments set forth in the parties' agreement constituted a violation of a material term of the agreement. The judge made no reference to Y.A.'s allegations of an abusive relationship in his findings. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter to the Housing Court for further proceedings, holding that where a judge is given reason to believe that domestic violence is or might be relevant to a landlord's basis for eviction, the judge must ensure that the judge has sufficient evidence to make a determination whether the tenant is entitled to protections under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), 34 U.S.C. 12291 et seq., and such a determination must be supported by findings. View "Boston Housing Authority v. Y.A." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court dismissing this declaratory judgment action brought by commercial tenants who unambiguously agreed to waive the right to commence a declaratory judgment action as to the terms of their leases, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the waiver clause was enforceable, requiring dismissal of the complaint. Plaintiffs executed two commercial leases with the predecessor-in-interest of Defendant. Each lease incorporated a rider provided that the tenant waived its right to bring a declaratory judgment action with respect to any provision of the lease. After Defendant sent notices to Plaintiffs alleging various defaults Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking a declaratory judgment that they were not in default. Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action. The Appellate Division affirmed, determining that the declaratory judgment waiver was enforceable and barred Plaintiffs' action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the declaratory judgment waiver was enforceable, and therefore, the action was properly dismissed. View "159 MP Corp. v Redbridge Bedford, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to the city in an action brought by landlord after the city revoked his rental-dwelling license. The court held that Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 860 F.3d 1106, 1109 (8th Cir. 2017), was controlling in this case, and that landlord failed to allege a plausible claim to relief under the Fair Housing Act. Giving landlord's complaint the honest, fair assessment he invites, the court was left with the inescapable conclusion that his claim was indeed about the city's alleged hyper-enforcement of its housing code against for-profit landlords, which was essentially the same allegation that this court considered and rejected in Ellis. View "Khan v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law

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Landlord filed an unlawful detainer action against tenants. At issue was whether the property fell within the single-family dwelling exemption to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance of the City of Los Angeles. The Court of Appeal held that, regardless of the original design and use of the property, its current configuration (nine bedrooms, two bathrooms, and one kitchen) and current use for occupancy (four individual bedrooms rented to separate households who share the kitchen and bathrooms, but who alone have exclusive access to and use of their rooms) does not qualify for the single–family dwelling exemption from the Ordinance, because it is not a "detached dwelling containing only one dwelling unit" within the meaning of Municipal Code section 12.03. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the appellate division. View "Chun v. Del Cid" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, under David v. Inwood North Professional Group-Phase I, 747 S.W.2d 373 (Tex. 1988), a tenant can terminate a commercial lease contract for the landlord's prior material breach and that the evidence offered to prove attorney's fees in this case was insufficient for fee-shifting awards. After terminating its lease early and vacating the premises while still owing unpaid rent a commercial tenant (Tenant) sued Landlord for breach of contract and breach of the implied warranty of suitability and also sought a declaratory judgment. The jury found that Landlord materially breached the lease agreement first, Landlord breached the implied warranty of suitability, and Tenant had the right to terminate the lease agreement. The trial court awarded Tenant attorney's fees. The court of appeals affirmed. After explaining the prevailing party's evidentiary burden and the standard for shifting reasonable and necessary attorney's fees to the non-prevailing party, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' judgment as to the attorney's fee award but otherwise affirmed, holding (1) a commercial tenant can terminate a commercial lease based on the landlord's prior material breach; but (2) the evidence used to prove attorney's fees was not legally sufficient to support the fee award. View "Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of Washington law to the Washington Supreme Court concerning premises liability. Shannon Adamson, an employee of the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS), fell approximately 15 feet when the passenger ramp at the Port of Bellingham's (Port) Bellingham Cruise Terminal (BCT) collapsed. The accident caused severe, life-changing injuries. The State of Alaska leased the BCT from the Port, allowing ferries to dock at the BCT and load and unload passengers and their vehicles. The Port elected to not implement an interlock device; when Adamson was operating the passenger ramp, slack was created in some attached cables. When she removed the locking pins, the ramp collapsed, snapped the cables, and Adamson and the ramp fell approximately 15 feet until the ramp caught on the ferry. Adamson and her husband sued the Port in federal court, alleging negligence and seeking damages for medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. The federal court determined Adamson was the Port's business invitee; the jury returned a verdict in favor of Adamson and awarded over $16 million in damages. The court found the Port under three separate theories of liability: duty to a business invitee, duty as a landlord, and a promise to perform repairs under the lease contract. The issue presented to the Washington Supreme Court centered on whether a property owner-landlord was liable for injuries that occur on its property when the lessee has exclusive possession at the time of the accident but only priority use under the lease and the landlord has contracted to maintain and repair the premises. The Supreme Court answered the first certified question in the affirmative and consequently, did not address the second question. View "Adamson v. Port of Bellingham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order dismissing Tenants' first cause of action against Landlord under the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) but reversed as to Tenants' second, third, and fourth causes of action, holding that the complaint stated plausible claims for relief under Neb. Rev. Stat. 76-1419, 76-1430, and 76-1439 of the URLTA for retaliatory conduct, ouster, and failure to maintain fit and habitable premises but not under sections 76-1418 and 76-1429 for failure to deliver possession. In their complaint, Tenants alleged that numerous code violations materially affecting their health and safety were present at the time they commenced physical possession of the property at issue but were not discovered until later. The City of Omaha Planning Department's housing division eventually declared the property unsafe and unfit for human occupancy, Tenants vacated the premises and did not receive a return of their security deposit or rent and utilities paid for the months they were unable to occupy the premises. Tenants then brought this action. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the alleged facts did not state a claim for relief under the URLTA. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in dismissing several causes of action. View "Vasquez v. CHI Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Kasey Harmon, a 53-year-old woman in failing health, was evicted from her home following a default judgment and writ of restitution. During the eviction, Harmon obtained an ex parte order staying enforcement of the judgment. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act of 1973 (RLTA) prohibited such an order. The Washington Supreme Court concluded the RLTA did not apply to tenants, like Harmon, who contested entry of a default judgment in unlawful detainer actions: these actions were governed by the Civil Rules. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals' decision, including the award of appellate attorney fees and costs to Reynolds. View "Randy Reynolds & Assocs. v. Harmon" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed an adverse order by the FAA's Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition (ODRA) regarding property Southern leased to the Administration. Southern subsequently sold the property and surrounding land to Prairie Land, assigning its lease with the FAA to Prairie Land. After the FAA refused to vacate the premises, Prairie Land initiated a contract dispute with the ODRA. The court held that the FAA's continued occupancy of the property was permitted, and the ODRA did not err by concluding that the holdover provisions permitted the FAA to holdover on the property until either a new lease was agreed upon or it acquired the property in fee. Therefore, the FAA was fully within its rights to continue possessing the property. View "Prairie Land Holdings, LLC v. FAA" on Justia Law