Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs Johnny Ki Lee and Un Joong Lee sought to evict a commercial tenant, defendant Sean Kotyluk, for selling marijuana without a license. They filed an unlawful detainer action against him based on Code of Civil Procedure section 1161 (3). Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion in limine requesting judgment on the pleadings, claiming plaintiffs’ three-day notice (the notice) was defective because it was served on June 4, 2019, but plaintiffs had not become owners of the property until June 20, 2019. In response, plaintiffs explained that the prior owner of the property, Rosemarie Haynes, had served the notice before transferring ownership of the property to them. The trial court granted judgment on the pleadings because the notice was issued prior to plaintiffs obtaining ownership of the property and because the notice failed to identify the party to whom defendant could return possession of the property. The court also denied plaintiffs leave to amend. Plaintiffs’ appeal raised two questions of first impression: (1) whether a property owner could file an unlawful detainer action based on a notice served by its predecessor in interest; and (2) did notice under section 1161 (3) have to identify a person to whom the tenant could turn over possession of the property if the tenant chose to quit? The Court of Appeal ruled: (1) nothing in the text of section 1161 prevented a successor owner from filing an unlawful detainer action, "nor does such a procedure undermine the purpose of the notice requirement in subdivision (3), which is primarily designed to give the tenant an opportunity to cure the breach and retain possession of the property;" and (2) identifying a specific person was not required by the statute: "Based on our reading of this subdivision, it appears the Legislature purposefully chose not to include such a requirement." View "Lee v. Kotyluk" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that certain provisions of the City of San Jose's 2017 Ordinance and implementing regulations, pertaining to the City's Apartment Rent Ordinance, violated plaintiffs' Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as the Contracts Clause. The challenged provisions of the Ordinance and Regulations require landlords to disclose information about rent stabilized units to the City and condition landlords' ability to increase rents on providing that information.The panel held that plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that the challenged provisions effect a search and thus their Fourth Amendment claim fails. In this case, plaintiffs offered no factual allegations plausibly suggesting that they maintain a reasonable expectation of privacy in information that, generally speaking, they already disclose to the City in other contexts. The panel also held that plaintiffs failed to raise a colorable Fifth Amendment takings claim, a Contracts Clause claim, an equal protection claim, and substantive and procedural due process claims. Finally, the Ordinance does not violate the "unconstitutional conditions" doctrine as enunciated in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, 570 U.S. 595 (2013). View "Hotop v. City of San Jose" on Justia Law

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The district court entered a default judgment against a litigant in a dispute over real property improvements and rent. Following a levy on his bank account, the litigant moved for relief from the default judgment, attesting that he had stopped participating in the lawsuit because he believed it was about to be dismissed. The district court denied the motion, but on appeal the superior court reversed on procedural grounds. On remand the litigant amended his answer to assert a counterclaim for conversion of personal property; the counterclaim would have been time-barred unless allowed to relate back to the date of the litigant’s original answer. The district court held that the litigant was judicially estopped from pursuing the counterclaim because it was contradictory for him to assert it after attesting that he believed for years that the case against him had been dismissed. The superior court affirmed this decision. The Alaska Supreme Court granted certiorari review to address one issue: whether judicial estoppel barred the conversion counterclaim. The Court concluded the litigant’s two positions — his asserted belief that the case had been dismissed and his later assertion of a counterclaim — were not clearly inconsistent and that the judicial estoppel doctrine therefore was inapplicable. The superior court’s decision affirming the district court’s judgment on this issue was reversed and the matter remanded to the district court for further proceedings on the counterclaim. View "Zwiacher v, Capstone Family Medical Clinic, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this contract dispute between Landlord and Tenant that arose under their lease to a shopping center premises the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Tenant on one claim and to Landlord on another claim, holding that any purported errors were harmless.When Tenant sought mortgage loan from Bank and offered its leasehold interest in the premises as collateral, Bank requested that Landlord execute a "section 3(n) agreement" pursuant to article 6, section 3(n) of the lease. Landlord did not sign the agreement. Bank then terminated the proposed mortgage loan. Tenant sued Landlord for breach of contract. Landlord countersued, claiming that Tenant had violated the lease through its subtenant's use of a pylon sign on the premises. The district court granted summary judgment to Tenant on Landlord's counterclaim. After a trial, the court found that Landlord had no obligation to execute the section 3(n) agreement. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not clearly err in finding that Landlord did not breach the lease by not signing the section 3(n) agreements proposed by Bank; and (2) the district court did not err in ruling on summary judgment that Tenant's subtenant's use of the pylon sign did not breach the lease. View "58 Swansea Mall Drive LLC v. Gator Swansea Property LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the determination that time of entry into a lot rental agreement does not render the renters dissimilar under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, 32L(2), holding that the requirement that renters pay ninety-six dollars per month in additional rent for essentially the same lots was a violation of the statute.Defendants, the new owners of a manufactured home community, charged those who had rented their lots after Defendants purchased the community ninety-six dollars per month more for lot rent than those who had rented their lots before the change in ownership, despite the lots being essentially the same. A group of people brought suit, and a class was certified. A housing court judge determined that Defendants violated section 32L(2). The Supreme Court affirmed but reversed and remanded the case for reconsideration of a different judge's class certification decisions, holding that the judge erred in requiring class members to opt in. The Court further held that the judge who conducted a trial on damages considered improper factors, and therefore, the subclassifications for damages calculations also required reconsideration. View "Blake v. Hometown America Communities, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the lessee under a lease for commercial premises, filed suit against defendants, alleging causes of action for premises liability and negligence after he fell down a staircase after hitting his head on a beam in the doorway at the top of the staircase. Plaintiff alleged that his fall was caused by the inherently dangerous condition of the staircase due to numerous building code violations.The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the exculpatory clause in the lease. In this case, plaintiff alleges ordinary, passive negligence -- the failure to discover a dangerous condition or to perform a duty imposed by law. The court held that the exculpatory clause shields the lessor from liability for ordinary negligence; its language is clear that the lesser shall not be liable for injury to the person of lessee; and these circumstances make this a case where, when the parties knowingly bargain for the protection at issue, the protection should be afforded. View "Garcia v. D/AQ Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court ejecting Defendant from real property pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6701-7053, holding that the trial court properly entered judgment for Plaintiffs, the property owners.Plaintiffs filed a complaint seeking to eject Defendant from the property and obtain a writ of possession. The trial court granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment for their claim of ejectment. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) correctly interpreted Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6961 and the legal framework governing real actions for ejectment; (2) did not err in entering partial summary judgment for Plaintiffs granting them a writ of possession; and (3) did not err in concluding that its judgment rendered Defendant's counterclaim for declaratory judgment moot. View "Ogden v. Labonville" on Justia Law

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Under the Santa Cruz Mobilehome Ordinance, a park owner may make an annual general rent adjustment without notice to the county, based on specified criteria. An owner who believes the annual adjustment does not provide for “a just and reasonable return” may petition for a special rent increase. Pinto, a 177-space mobile home park, filed a special petition seeking to increase rents by 47 percent. Notice was provided to the residents, who hired counsel and submitted objections. A hearing officer denied the proposed increase. Pinto filed a petition for administrative mandamus and complaint for declarative relief naming the county and the hearing officer as respondents. The county argued that Pinto failed to join the mobile home park residents as indispensable parties under Code of Civil Procedure section 389. Instead of amending its complaint/petition, Pinto elected to stand on the original pleadings. A judgment of dismissal was entered.The court of appeal remanded The trial court, citing Code of Civil Procedure section 389(a), concluded that the residents are necessary parties but did not address section 389(b)--whether the case should be dismissed due to the residents’ absence. The parties disagreed about whether the statute of limitations had run on joinder and the owner’s election to stand on its original pleading truncated the process. The court granted the unopposed motion to dismiss without deciding whether the residents could be made parties or whether the lawsuit could continue without them. View "Pinto Lake MHP LLC v. County of Santa Cruz" on Justia Law

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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment for Allstate Indemnity Company, holding that property loss from Plaintiffs' tenants' producing or using methamphetamine indoors was not a covered peril under the insurance policy.Plaintiff filed an insurance claim alleging that his tenants damaged his rental house by producing or using methamphetamine indoors. Allstate denied the claim. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint against Allstate alleging breach of contract and bad faith. The district court granted summary judgment for Allstate, concluding that Plaintiff's property loss was excluded from coverage under certain portions of the insurance policy and was not covered by other portions of the policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's assignments of error were without merit. View "Kaiser v. Allstate Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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For several years Miller provided Dix with living space in her basement, without payment of rent. Miller told Dix to move out so she could sell the house. He refused; Miller called the police. Officers told Miller that she could not evict Dix without a court order. Miller called the police again the next day. Officers arrived, allegedly knowing that there had been no domestic disturbance. They prevented Dix from entering the house while Miller hauled Dix’s things outside. Dix protested and yelled insults. Officers threatened to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Eventually, Dix left and got a moving van. When he returned, the officers allowed him inside to retrieve his property but refused him access to certain rooms and took his keys.Dix a pro se suit, with 12 causes of action against nine defendants. The district court struck the pleading citing “redundant, impertinent, and scandalous allegations.” Dix amended his complaint. adding seven causes of action and five defendants, including Fourth Amendment claims against the officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. With respect to the Fourth Amendment claims, the court noted that Dix was free to leave at any time and that Miller maintained complete possession and control over her home but had granted Dix a revocable license. When a license is revoked, the licensee becomes a trespasser. A seizure of property occurs when there is meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory interests; here there was none. Even if there were a seizure, it was reasonable. View "Dix v. Edelman Financial Services, LLC" on Justia Law