Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Constitutional Law
Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc.
In this Fair Housing Act of 1968 case, plaintiff's claims stemmed from his neighbor's verbal attacks and attempted intimidation of plaintiff based on his race. The principal question presented to the en banc court is whether a plaintiff states a claim under the Act and parallel state statutes for intentional discrimination by alleging that his landlord failed to respond to reported race-based harassment by a fellow tenant.The en banc court concluded that landlords cannot be presumed to have the degree of control over tenants that would be necessary to impose liability under the FHA for tenant-on-tenant misconduct. In this case, plaintiff failed to state a claim that the KPM Defendants intentionally discriminated against him on the basis of race in violation of the FHA, Sections 1981 and 1982, or the New York State Human Rights Law. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to state a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress against the KPM Defendants under New York law. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law
Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Ass’n v. City of Omaha, Nebraska
Plaintiffs filed suit against the City, alleging that the Rental Property Registration and Inspection Ordinance violated their constitutional rights, breached their consent decree with the City, and violated the Fair Housing Act. The Ordinance implemented uniform residential rental property registration, and a regular inspection program that is phased in accordance with the history of code violations on each property, requiring all rental properties in the City to register with the Permits and Inspections Division before leasing to tenants. The district court denied a preliminary injunction and dismissed plaintiffs' claims.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the Ordinance does not violate Metro Omaha's constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Applying the Nebraska Supreme Court's rules of construction, the court concluded that the plain text of the Ordinance does not authorize warrantless inspections of properties if consent is withheld. Furthermore, pre-compliance review before inspections does not apply here where inspections are permitted only if there is consent, a warrant, or court order. Finally, by withholding consent, property owners are not subject to criminal liability or prohibited from renting their property.The court also concluded that the Ordinance is not unconstitutionally vague in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The court explained that the Ordinance provides adequate notice of the proscribed conduct and does not lend itself to arbitrary enforcement. The court further concluded that Metro Omaha fails to plausibly plead a breach of the consent decree, and that the Ordinance does not violate the Fair Housing Act. View "Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Ass'n v. City of Omaha, Nebraska" on Justia Law
Hotop v. City of San Jose
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
Dix v. Edelman Financial Services, LLC
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
Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc.
The Second Circuit held that a landlord may be liable under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for intentionally discriminating against a tenant who complains about a racially hostile housing environment that is created by and leads to the arrest and conviction of another tenant. In this case, the landlord allegedly refused to take any action to address what it knew to be a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, even though the landlord had acted against other tenants to redress prior, non‐race related issues. In holding that a landlord may be liable in those limited circumstances, the court adhered to the FHA's broad language and remedial scope. The court also held that post-acquisition claims that arise from intentional discrimination are cognizable under section 3604 of the FHA. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims under the FHA and analogous New York State law, as well as his claims under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and 82. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law
Yim v. Seattle
Broadly speaking, Seattle's First-In-Time ("FIT") rule requires Seattle landlords when seeking to fill vacant tenancies to provide notice of rental criteria, screen all completed applications in chronological order, and to offer the tenancy to the first qualified applicant (subject to certain exceptions). Plaintiffs were Seattle landlords who claimed the FIT rule facially violated their state constitutional rights. The trial court ruled the FIT rule was unconstitutional on its face because: (1) the rule facially effected a per se regulatory taking for private use; (2) the rule facially infringed on plaintiffs' substantive due process rights; and (3) the rule facially infringed plaintiffs' free speech rights. The Washington Supreme Court determined the FIT rule was constitutional, "[t]he FIT rule is unquestionably an experiment." The Court adopted the definition of regulatory takings set forth in Lingle v. Chevron U.S.A., 544 U.S. 528 (2005) for the purposes of Washington Constitution article I, section 16, and held plaintiffs did not meet their burden of showing the FIT rule facially met this definition. The Court also clarified the rational basis review applied in substantive due process challenges to laws regulating the use of property, and held plaintiffs did not meet their burden of proving the FIT rule failed rational basis review on its face. Furthermore, the Supreme Court held that on its face, the FIT rule required only factual disclosures, and the City met its burden of showing the rule survived deferential scrutiny. View "Yim v. Seattle" on Justia Law
Ex parte Trinity Property Consultants, LLC.
Trinity Property Consultants, LLC ("Trinity Property"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals holding that Trinity Property failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that Brittony Mays had been properly served in an eviction and unlawful-detainer action filed by Trinity Property pursuant to the Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, section 35- 9A-101 et seq., Ala. Code 1975. In 2018, the District Court entered a default judgment against Mays in the eviction and unlawful-detainer action filed by Trinity Property. Mays moved the district court, pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4), Ala. R. Civ. P., to set aside the default judgment on the basis that she had not been served with the complaint in the action; that motion was denied. Mays appealed the denial of the Rule 60(b)(4) motion to the Shelby Circuit Court; that court dismissed her appeal as untimely filed. Mays moved the circuit court, pursuant to Rule 59(e), Ala. R. Civ. P., to reinstate the appeal and to stay the execution of the default judgment. Trinity Property responded with an affidavit from the process server, who averred in relevant part he posted and mailed the summons and complaint when he did not receive a response from knocking on Mays’ front door. Mays's position was that merely knocking on the door, without more, was not a "reasonable effort" at personal service. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the process server’s effort at obtaining personal service was reasonable, the alternative method of service satisfied the requirements of due process. The Court reversed judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Ex parte Trinity Property Consultants, LLC." on Justia Law
Wireless One, Inc. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss this action brought by a former tenant of a public market in Baltimore City, holding that the tenant was not a "displaced person" as that term is defined in Md. Code Ann. Real Prop. (RP) 12-201(e)(1)(i), and therefore, the tenant was not wrongfully denied moving and relocation expenses and there was no unconstitutional taking.After a rental agent for the public market advised the tenant that its business did not fit in the redevelopment plans for the market and that it should pursue other options, the tenant vacated the market. The tenant sued seeking compensation for moving and relocation expenses as a displaced person and for an unconstitutional taking. The trial court dismissed the action, concluding that the tenant did not qualify as a "displaced person" because the exemption in RP 12-201(e)(2)(iii) applied. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the tenant was both not a displaced person under RP 12-201(e)(1)(i) and exempt from qualifying as a displaced person under RP 12-201(e)(2)(iii). View "Wireless One, Inc. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore" on Justia Law
Regan v. City of Hammond
Landlords challenged a Hammond ordinance that they either obtain a city license or hire licensed contractors to perform repairs and renovations to their properties. Obtaining a license involves a test, payment of a fee, and a criminal background check. The ordinance does not apply to individual homeowners working on the properties in which they reside. On summary judgment, the district court rejected their argument that the ordinance impermissibly burdens owners who do not reside in Hammond. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The ordinance does not discriminate against non-residents and is supported by a rational basis. The court noted the significant differences between resident owners and landlords and the city’s interests in safety and the habitability of dwellings. View "Regan v. City of Hammond" on Justia Law
ValueRock TN Prop. v. PK II Larwin Square
The case arose from a landlord’s repeated refusal to consent to the proposed assignment of a ground lease for the anchor space in a shopping center. The plaintiffs were the entities that wished to assign the leasehold interest and the entities that agreed to take the assignment; the defendants were the landlord and its parent company. In their original and first amended complaints, plaintiffs alleged the landlord unreasonably withheld consent to the plaintiffs’ lease assignment request. While the litigation was pending, plaintiffs made an amended lease assignment request, which the landlord similarly rejected. In their second amended complaint, plaintiffs asserted the same five causes of action as before, but added allegations about the landlord’s refusal to consent to their amended assignment request. The landlord filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the second amended complaint, contending plaintiffs’ amended assignment request and the landlord’s response to that request were settlement communications and statements made in litigation, and therefore constituted protected activity. The trial court denied the motion, finding the landlord’s rejection of the amended assignment request was not a settlement communication or litigation-related conduct, but rather an ordinary business decision. The Court of Appeal agreed and affirmed the order denying the anti-SLAPP motion. View "ValueRock TN Prop. v. PK II Larwin Square" on Justia Law