Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court determined that the Legislature, through its enactment of a comprehensive statutory framework governing residential landlord and tenant relations, achieved an appropriate balance between a landlord's right to recover a landlord's property interest at the conclusion of a tenancy and a tenant's right to safe and habitable housing conditions during the pregnancy.After Plaintiff provided Defendants, who resided in Plaintiff's building as a month-to-month tenants, with a sixty-day written notice to quit and Defendants refused to vacate the premises, Plaintiff filed tenant holding over actions under N.Y. Real Prop. 8-402. In both cases, the circuit ordered that possession of the property be returned to Plaintiff. Defendants filed a petition for writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to hold that the tenants holding over statute is unavailable to an unlicensed landlord seeking a writ of possession of the landlord's property after the expiration of a tenancy. The Supreme Court declined to adopt such a holding and affirmed. View "Velicky v. CopyCat Building LLC" on Justia Law

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Tioga Properties, LLC, appealed a district court judgment awarding Wades Welding, LLC $27,669.90 relating to Wades Welding’s lawsuit for enforcement of construction liens and unjust enrichment. Janice Ellsworth owned Tioga Properties. Tioga Properties owned a restaurant and home (referred to by the parties as a “mobile home”) adjacent to each other in Tioga, North Dakota. Susan Gordon leased the restaurant from Tioga Properties. Gordon delivered rent payments to John Ellsworth Jr., Janice Ellsworth’s son. Gordon resided in the home but had no written lease for that property. In late 2016 and early 2017, Gordon hired Wades Welding to repair the home and restaurant. Wades Welding performed $19,840 of work on the home and $2,500 of work on the restaurant. Wades Welding delivered the invoices for its work to Ellsworth Jr. A day after Wades Welding completed its work at the home, Ellsworth evicted Gordon from the restaurant and home. Ellsworth Jr. supervised the eviction and Gordon left both properties within 48 hours. In December 2017, Wades Welding recorded construction liens against the properties after Tioga Properties failed to pay for the repairs. Tioga Properties sold the restaurant in July 2019. In September 2019, Tioga Properties served on Wades Welding a demand to enforce the home lien. In October 2019, Wades Welding sued Tioga Properties for breach of contract, foreclosure of the construction liens and unjust enrichment. Tioga Properties denied the allegations, claiming it did not authorize Wades Welding's work on the properties. The district court found Wades Welding's construction liens on both properties were valid, and ordered foreclosure of the home lien. The court found the lien on the restaurant was unenforceable due to a service error, but nonetheless awarded Wades Welding the amount of the repaired under the doctrine of unjust enrichment. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed judgment in favor of Wades Welding. View "Wades Welding v. Tioga Properties" on Justia Law

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The issue this appeal presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review centered on a farm lease between Walker Land & Cattle, LLC, (“Walker”) and Sometimes a Great Notion Land and Cattle Company (“SAGN”). The lease agreement required Walker, as tenant, to obtain insurance coverage on “improvements” to the Ririe Farm, which SAGN, as landlord, contended included the property’s five irrigation pivots. The district court granted summary judgment to SAGN, concluding that under the lease agreement irrigation pivots were improvements and Walker defaulted on the lease by failing to provide insurance on the pivots. On appeal, Walker raised several related issues, primarily contending that genuine issues of material fact barred granting summary judgment. Finding no reversible error, however, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the award of summary judgment by the district court. View "Stanger v. Walker Land & Cattle" on Justia Law

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The Union Pacific Railroad charged Heber Rentals, LC (“Heber”) and L.K.L. Associates, Inc. (“L.K.L.”) rent under a lease that allowed L.K.L. to continue operating a building materials supply business on land that was owned in fee by Heber—and leased to L.K.L.—but encumbered by Union Pacific’s right of way. After the Supreme Court stated in 2014 that railroad rights of way like Union Pacific’s were “nonpossessory” easements, L.K.L. and Heber stopped paying rent and filed suit against Union Pacific. In addition to requesting declaratory relief, L.K.L. and Heber sought to have their leases rescinded and to receive restitution for rent already paid. Union Pacific brought counterclaims arising out of their nonpayment. On summary judgment, the district court held that Union Pacific’s easement, while nonpossessory, gave it exclusive use and possession rights “insofar as Union Pacific elected to use the land subject to its easement for a railroad purpose.” Although it found that the lease agreements served no railroad purpose, it denied the rescission claim as “untimely and redundant.” In a follow-up order, it ruled that L.K.L. and Heber had abandoned their remaining claims. The district court also rejected all of Union Pacific’s counterclaims. The Tenth Circuit agreed with Union Pacific that its right of way included the unqualified right to exclude L.K.L. and Heber, but the Court agreed with L.K.L. and Heber that their leases were invalid. “Even if the incidental use doctrine applies, neither the leases nor the underlying business conduct furthered a railroad purpose, as the easement requires.” The Court: reversed the district court’s declaratory judgment rulings to the extent they are inconsistent with the Court’s opinion; affirmed the district court’s ruling that the rescission claim was time-barred; affirmed the district court’s rejection of Union Pacific’s counterclaim for breach of contract; reversed its rejection of Union Pacific’s other substantive counterclaims; and reversed the district court’s finding of abandonment. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "LKL Associates, et al. v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Kremerman sued his former tenant, White. After a registered process server filed three non-service reports, Kremerman unsuccessfully sought to accomplish service by publication. In the subsequent proof of service, the process server stated that he left a copy of the summons and complaint with “a competent member of the household (at least 18 years of age) at the dwelling house or usual place of abode of the party” and identified said person as Plowden, an “authorized employee” at the Postal Annex where White maintained a private mailbox. The process server “thereafter mailed (by first-class, postage prepaid) copies of the documents” to the “authorized employee at ‘Postal Annex’.” The trial court entered a default judgment against White. White unsuccessfully moved to vacate the default judgment, alleging she was never effectively served with the summons and complaint.The court of appeal reversed. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 473 (d), and section 473.5, the trial court never acquired personal jurisdiction over White because service of summons was defective. Kremerman did not undertake diligent efforts to serve White. With respect to substituted service, the Postal Annex is not White’s household or usual place of abode, nor was Plowden a competent member of White’s household. Kremerman was aware that White had another address, as he included that address on the security deposit itemization. View "Kremerman v. White" on Justia Law

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As a matter of first impression, the Alabama Supreme Court addressed whether Rule 55(b)(2), Ala. R. Civ. P., required a trial court to hold a hearing before entering a default judgment. The Court of Civil Appeals, in Living By Faith Christian Church v. Young Men's Christian Ass'n of Birmingham, [Ms. 2180674, Mar. 20, 2020] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2020), determined that the trial court did not err in granting the application for a default judgment filed by the Young Men's Christian Association of Birmingham ("the YMCA") without first holding a hearing. After review, the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Civil Appeals' determination and concluded that Rule 55(b)(2) did not require a trial court to hold a hearing on every application or motion for a default judgment. View "Ex parte Living By Faith Christian Church" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were landlords that rented property in the City of Portland. Plaintiffs filed a declaratory judgment and injunction action against the city contending, as relevant here, that ORS 91.225 preempted an ordinance passed requiring landlords to pay relocation assistance to displaced tenants in certain circumstances. Plaintiffs argued the ordinance impermissibly created a private cause of action that a tenant could bring against a landlord that violates the ordinance. On review, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded ORS 91.225 did not prevent municipalities from enacting other measures that could affect the amount of rent that a landlord charged or could discourage a landlord from raising its rents. The Court further held that ORS 91.225 did not preempt the city’s ordinance. The Supreme Court also rejected plaintiffs’ contention that the ordinance impermissibly created a private cause of action. View "Owen v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' request for class certification, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by holding that Plaintiffs' certification request did not meet the requirements of Mont. R. Civ. P. 23.Plaintiff lived in apartment complexes owned and operated by Defendants. Plaintiffs alleged that their leases contained multiple provisions violating Montana law. Plaintiffs sought certification as a class under Rule 23 to include other tenants who entered into similar lease agreements with Defendants. The district court dismissed most claims but denied the dismissal of two claims as to one plaintiff. The district court also denied Plaintiffs' request for class certification. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs' request for class certification. View "Vulles v. Thies & Talle Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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Union Square owns the San Francisco building where Saks has operated a store since 1991. The lease's initial 25-year term was followed by successive options to renew; it mandates arbitration to determine Fair Market Rent for renewals. Section 3.1(c)(iv) states that “[e]ach party shall share equally the fees and expenses of the arbitrator. The attorneys’ fees and expenses of counsel for the respective parties and of witnesses shall be paid by the respective party engaging such counsel or calling such witnesses.” Section 23.10 permits a prevailing party to recover costs, expenses, and reasonable attorneys’ fees, “Should either party institute any action or proceeding to enforce this Lease ... or for damages by reason of any alleged breach ... or for a declaration of rights hereunder,The parties arbitrated a rent dispute in 2017. The trial court vacated the First Award, in favor of Union Square. To avoid re-arbitration, Union Square sought mandamus relief, which was summarily denied. While discussions concerning another arbitration were pending, Union Square filed a superior court motion to appoint the second arbitrator. The court-appointed arbitrator ruled in favor of Saks.The court of appeal affirmed the orders vacating the First Award and confirming the Second Award. Saks sought $1 million in attorneys’ fees for “litigation proceedings arising out of the arbitration,” not for the arbitrations themselves, citing Section 23.10. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the motion. Each party agreed to bear its own attorneys’ fees for all proceedings related to settling any disagreement around Fair Market Rent under Section 3.1(c). View "California Union Square L.P. v. Saks & Company LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellants Keith Aaron and Weston Street Trust appealed a trial court’s summary judgment upholding a Notice of Violation (NOV) concerning the Trust’s property on grounds it was occupied by more than four unrelated adults in violation of applicable zoning restrictions. The property at issue was an individual unit (unit #1) within a three-unit building (the property) located in the City of Burlington’s Residential Low Density Zoning District (RL District). In the context of cross motions for summary judgment, the Trust did not deny that more than four unrelated adults lived in unit #1, and did not contest that the applicable zoning ordinance prohibited such a use in the RL District. The Trust argued that the violation was unenforceable because it first occurred more than fifteen years ago or, in the alternative, that this enforcement action was barred by claim preclusion. The Environmental Division granted summary judgment to the City, upholding the NOV. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the City was not precluded from enforcing the zoning violation on account of 24 V.S.A. 4454 because a valid municipal ordinance established that if an unlawful use is discontinued for more than sixty days, resumption of the unlawful use constituted a new violation, and the Supreme Court rejected the Trust’s alternate argument that its use was a lawful preexisting nonconforming use based on the preclusive effect of permitting proceedings in 1972 and 1994. View "In re 15-17 Weston Street NOV" on Justia Law