Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff H.C. Equities, L.P. asserted contract claims against its commercial tenant, the County of Union, after the County began to withhold rent payments in response to a dispute about the condition of the leased commercial buildings. During negotiations to settle the contract matter, the County directed its co-defendant, the Union County Improvement Authority (Authority), to assess the County’s real estate needs. H.C. Equities obtained a copy of a consultant’s report prepared as part of that assessment and objected to statements in the report about the condition of the buildings that it had leased to the County. H.C. Equities filed suit against the County and the Authority, asserting conspiracy claims against both defendants and trade libel and defamation claims against the Authority. Plaintiff did not apply for permission to file a late tort claims notice until more than eight months after the expiration of the one-year period allowed under N.J.S.A. 59:8-9 for the filing of such motions. The trial court held that H.C. Equities had failed to file the notices of claim that the Tort Claims Act required and dismissed its tort claims. H.C. Equities appealed, and the Appellate Division reversed the trial court. Relying on a combination of excerpts from three letters written by H.C. Equities’ counsel, the Appellate Division found that H.C. Equities substantially complied with the Act’s notice of claim provisions. The New Jersey Supreme Court disagreed that a finding of substantial compliance with the Tort Claims Act could be premised on comments made by plaintiff’s counsel in three different letters sent to lawyers representing the defendant public entities. The Supreme Court did not find that H.C. Equities’ letters, individually or collectively, communicated the core information that a claimant had to provide to a public entity in advance of filing a tort claim. The Appellate Division’s determination was reversed, and the matter remanded to the trial court. View "H.C. Equities, LP v. County of Union" on Justia Law

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In this summary process action for nonpayment of rent under the terms of a commercial lease the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment of possession rendered in favor of Plaintiffs, holding that the trial court properly denied Defendants equitable relief from forfeiture of their tenancy.After the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's judgment of possession rendered in favor of Plaintiffs, Defendants appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying their special defense of equitable nonforfeiture. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the facts of this case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to grant Defendants equitable relief from forfeiture. View "Boccanfuso v. Daghoghi" on Justia Law

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Antonia Nyman was renting a backyard cottage to Dan Hanley when the COVID-19 pandemic began. She sought to evict Hanley and gave him 60 days’ notice of her intention to move into the unit herself. Due to this unprecedented pandemic, Washington Governor Jay Inslee temporarily halted most evictions, but not for landlords seeking to occupy the unit personally. A federal eviction moratorium imposed by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also temporarily halted some evictions, but not for tenants who have violated a contractual obligation (with certain specified exceptions). The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review centered on whether Hanley violated a contractual obligation by holding over in his unit after his lease expired by its terms. Based on undisputed facts before us, the Court held that he did. "While the CDC order may be more protective than Washington’s eviction proclamation in some instances, it does not apply here. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court and lift the stay of the writ of restitution." View "Nyman v. Hanley" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that sexual harassment—both hostile housing environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment—is actionable under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, provided the plaintiff demonstrates that she would not have been harassed but for her sex.In this case, plaintiff filed suit against the property manager and the property's owner, alleging sexual harassment claims under the Act and state law. The district court found no guidance from the court on this question and therefore dismissed the complaint based on the ground that plaintiff's claims were not actionable under the Act. The court vacated the district court's order dismissing plaintiff's complaint and remanded for reconsideration. View "Fox v. Gaines" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment of possession rendered in favor of Plaintiffs, holding that the trial court properly rejected Defendants' claim that the doctrine of equitable nonforfeiture should have operated to prevent their eviction in a summary process action for nonpayment of rent under the terms of a commercial lease.After Defendants failed to pay rent, Plaintiffs served a notice to quit on Defendants, thereby terminating the parties' lease. Because Defendants did not subsequently vacate the premises Plaintiffs initiated this summary process action. In response, Defendants raised special defenses, including the special defense of equitable nonforfeiture. The trial court rendered judgment of possession for Plaintiffs. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to grant Defendants equitable relief from forfeiture and granting possession of the premises to Plaintiffs. View "Boccanfuso v. Daghoghi" on Justia Law

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (2020) (CARES Act), among other things, imposed a 120-day moratorium on evictions for rental properties receiving federal assistance. The CDC then issued a temporary eviction moratorium on September 4, 2020, that suspended the execution of eviction orders for nonpayment of rent. Before the CDC's order was originally set to expire on December 31, 2020, Congress enacted the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which extended the CDC's order through January 31, 2021. The CDC's order was then extended again through March 31, 2021, and again through June 30, 2021, and again through July 31, 2021.Plaintiffs, several landlords seeking to evict their tenants for nonpayment of rent and a trade association for owners and managers of rental housing, filed suit alleging that the CDC's orders exceeds its statutory and regulatory authority, is arbitrary and capricious, and violates their constitutional right to access the courts.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction based on plaintiffs' failure to show an irreparable injury. The court declined to find that the CDC's order is unconstitutional, and failed to see how the temporary inability to reclaim rental properties constitutes an irreparable harm. Furthermore, the court explained that, without any information about a tenant’s financial or employment picture, the court has no way to evaluate whether she will ever be able to repay her landlord; to decide otherwise based solely on the CDC declaration would be to conclude that no one who signed the declaration is likely to repay their debts after the moratorium expires. Given the lack of evidence and the availability of substantial collection tools, the court could not conclude that the landlords have met their burden of showing that an irreparable injury is likely. View "Brown v. Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law

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Tenant Dennis Florer brought an action against Yar Walizada, his landlord, for breach of the warranty of habitability based on an alleged failure to provide an adequate heat source. Walizada moved to dismiss, asserting that Florer lacked standing to bring the action because, by the time Florer provided written notice under Idaho Code section 6-320, the alleged breach had already been cured. The district court denied the motion and, following a bench trial, entered judgment in Florer’s favor. Walizada appealed, arguing the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found: Walizada rented a house without an adequate heat source to Florer; he had an obligation to provide an adequate heat source; he induced Florer to install the stove by promising to offset Florer’s costs against his rent; and he reneged on this promise. The Court found Florer could have sued for breach of the oral agreement to offset the costs of installation against his rent, and given the result below, it appears he would have been successful if he had. However, Florer brought suit under section 6-320, and this suit was not preceded by a written notice allowing three days to cure, the district court’s failure to grant Walizada’s motion to dismiss contradicted the plain language of section 6-320; therefore, the Court reversed its decision. View "Florer v. Walizada" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court finding in favor of Landlord against all of defendants except two on Landlord's suit against two tenants and seven other parties for fraudulent and voluntary conveyances and against a single defendant for conversion, holding that the trial court misapplied Virginia law and made factually insupportable findings.In its letter opinion, the trial court made each of the defendants which the court had found liable jointly and severally liable with in personam judgments for the unpaid rent, Landlord's attorney fees, and sanctions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court's in personal, joint and several judgments in this case must be reversed as legally erroneous and factually insupportable; and (2) the trial court erred in finding the single defendant liable for conversion. View "Grayson v. Westwood Buildings L.P." on Justia Law

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In this landlord-tenant dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's denial of Tenant's claim for treble damages under Minn. Stat. 504B.231, holding that remand was required for the court of appeals to address one remaining issue left unaddressed by its decision.Landlord resorted to self-help measures to remove Tenant from a residential premises. Tenant filed a petition for possession of residential rental property following unlawful removal under Minn. Stat. 504B.375 (the lockout petition) and sought treble damages for ouster under section 504B.231. The district court dismissed the lockout petition, concluding that Tenant was not a "residential tenant" and that Landlord did not act in bad faith. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) to recover treble damages under section 504B.231, tenants must established that their landlord removed them from a residential premises unlawfully and in bad faith; and (2) remand was required for the court of appeals to determined whether Tenant was a tenant under section 504B.231(a). View "Reimringer v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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The County of Sacramento (County) filed an action to abate building and housing code violations at two properties owned or managed by Raj Singh and Kiran Rawat, individually and as trustee of the SitaRam Living Trust dated 2007 and the Sita Ram Trust. The trial court appointed a receiver under Health and Safety Code section 17980.7 to take control of and rehabilitate the properties upon the County’s motion. Singh appealed pro se the trial court’s order approving the receiver’s final account and report and discharging the receiver. The Court of Appeal addressed Singh's claims "as best as [the Court could] discern them." After careful consideration of Singh's claims, the Court found no reversible error and affirmed the trial court. View "County of Sacramento v. Rawat" on Justia Law