Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant
by
Plaintiffs appealed from a trial court order sustaining a demurrer to the class allegations in their complaint against Defendants, their former landlords. The complaint asserts claims under the Ellis Act and the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (the Ordinance), Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC), as well as for fraud and violations of section 17200 of the Business and Professions Code (Unfair Competition Law).  Defendants evicted Plaintiffs from their rent-controlled apartments. Plaintiffs alleged that although Defendants declared they were removing the apartment buildings from the rental market entirely, Defendants subsequently listed units in the same buildings for rent on Airbnb. Defendants demurred to the class allegations in the complaint, asserting Plaintiffs could not satisfy the requirements for class certification as a matter of law. The trial court found Plaintiffs could not satisfy the community of interest requirement for liability or damages, and class treatment was not the superior method for resolving the litigation   The Second Appellate District reversed and remanded. The court concluded that the trial court erred in finding, as a matter of law, that there is no reasonable probability Plaintiffs will show common questions of law or fact predominate as to the classwide claims for liability. The court explained that Plaintiffs’ allegations indicate a need for individualized proof or calculation of damages. However, the court concluded Plaintiffs have alleged such issues may be effectively managed and there remains a reasonable probability Plaintiffs will satisfy the requirements for class certification. View "Maarten v. Cohanzad" on Justia Law

by
Between 2015 and 2019, BitterSweet Ranch and its managers (“BitterSweet”) leased three parcels of farmland from Frank Sullivan and two of his business entities, The Green Desert, LLC, and The Sullivan Limited Partnership (collectively, “Sullivan”). The parties signed three identical five-year leases (“the Leases”) involving three separate parcels of real property, each owned by one of the three Sullivan parties. The Leases specified that Sullivan was to be responsible for payment of the property taxes, but that those parties were to be reimbursed by BitterSweet, and that BitterSweet was to be responsible for bi-annual rent payments, utilities, and water assessments. For a variety of reasons, the parties purportedly orally agreed to modify the Leases to offset amounts owed to each other throughout the terms of the Leases. Shortly before the Leases were set to expire at the end of their five-year terms, Sullivan claimed that BitterSweet was in breach of the Leases for its alleged failure to make timely rent payments, to pay all property taxes, and to pay the water assessments pursuant to the terms of the Leases. Sullivan then filed three lawsuits (one for each of the Leases and in the names of each of the three parties) in district court. The district court ordered the cases consolidated and then granted summary judgment in favor of BitterSweet, concluding that a genuine issue of material fact had not been created as to whether BitterSweet had breached the Leases. Sullivan appealed the adverse order. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Sullivan v. BitterSweet Ranch, LLC" on Justia Law

by
In early 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19, Los Angeles County passed the “Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles Further Amending and Restating the Executive Order for an Eviction Moratorium During Existence of a Local Health Emergency Regarding Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)” (the “Moratorium”). The Moratorium imposed temporary restrictions on certain residential and commercial tenant evictions. It provided tenants with new affirmative defenses to eviction based on nonpayment of rent, prohibited landlords from charging late fees and interest, and imposed civil and criminal penalties to landlords who violate the Moratorium. Id. Section V (July 14, 2021). Plaintiff, a commercial landlord, sued the County, arguing that the Moratorium impaired his lease, in violation of the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The district court found that Plaintiff had not alleged an injury in fact and dismissed his complaint for lack of standing.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal. The panel held that Plaintiff had standing to bring his Contracts Clause claim. Plaintiff’s injury for Article III purposes did not depend on whether Plaintiff’s tenant provided notice or was otherwise excused from doing so. Those questions went to the merits of the claim rather than Plaintiff’s standing to bring suit. Plaintiff alleged that the moratorium impaired his contract with his tenant because it altered the remedies the parties had agreed to at the time they entered into the lease. The panel held that these allegations were sufficient to plead an injury in fact and to state a claim under the Contracts Clause, and remanded to the district court. View "HOWARD ITEN V. COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES" on Justia Law

by
This consolidated appeal arose from a dispute regarding a purchase option within a lease agreement. Bronco Elite Arts & Athletics, LLC, and its manager and registered agent, Brandon Paine (collectively “Bronco Elite”), operated a gymnastics facility in Garden City, Idaho. The gymnastics facility was located on property that Bronco Elite leased from 106 Garden City, LLC (“106 Garden City”), and Tricon Properties, LLC (“Tricon”). The lease agreement provided Bronco Elite the option to purchase the Property five years into the initial ten-year lease term. However, when Bronco Elite attempted to exercise its option, 106 Garden City and Tricon refused to honor the option. Bronco Elite sued 106 Garden City and Tricon, seeking specific performance. 106 Garden City and Tricon argued that Bronco Elite was precluded from exercising its purchase option because Bronco Elite had breached the lease agreement by consistently failing to pay rent on time and the lease terms only permitted Bronco Elite to exercise the purchase option if it was not in breach. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Bronco Elite and ordered 106 Garden City and Tricon to convey the Property to Bronco Elite. The specific performance ordered by the district court was stayed pending appeal. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to Bronco Elite, however, the Court found the trial court erred in setting the purchase price of the Property in the way that it did. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Bronco Elite Arts & Athletics, LLC v. 106 Garden City, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the summary judgment granted by the district court in favor of a non-shareholder officer and a non-shareholder former director in this suit brought by Landlord seeking to pierce the corporate veil of a commercial tenant (Tenant), who failed or refused to pay a judgment against it, holding that the district court did not err.Landlord sued Tenant for nonpayment of rent and recovered a judgment. When Landlord was unable to recover on its judgment it commenced the instant action seeking to pierce Tenant's corporate veil and hold a non-shareholder officer and a non-shareholder former director personally liable for the judgment against Tenant. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissed the case with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the factors did not weigh in favor of veil piercing. View "407 N 117 Street v. Harper" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of prohibition preventing Judge Peter J. Corrigan from proceeding in a declaratory judgment and preliminary injunction action, holding that Judge Corrigan did not lack jurisdiction to proceed in the case.United Twenty-Fifth Building, LLC sued Jessica Maron, a party to a pending divorce case, alleging that Jessica was interfering with an easement involving a multistory building in Cleveland. Specifically, United argued that Jessica was preventing access to the building's elevator, lobby, and stairwell and delaying the construction of a restaurant in the building. Jessica filed a prohibition petition seeking to prevent Judge Corrigan from exercising jurisdiction in United's case because, under the jurisdictional-priority rule, Judge Corrigan patently and unambiguously lacked jurisdiction to proceed because the case involved property that may be subject to equitable division in her divorce case. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Jessica failed to show that the jurisdictional-priority rule applied under the circumstances of this case. View "State ex rel. Maron v. Corrigan" on Justia Law

by
The LLC, managed by Kountze, owns the four-unit building. Kountze lives in one unit. When the LLC acquired the property in 2017, the tenants lived in unit 3. In 2020, the LLC served them with a “Notice of Termination of Tenancy” (NOT), stating that the landlord was withdrawing the property from the residential rental market under the Ellis Act and the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance. The landlord also filed with the Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board a “Notice of Intent to Withdraw Residential Units from the Rental Market.” Counsel for the landlord testified that she sent the NOT to the tenants’ address with checks for $3,492.62 relocation payments. The postal service returned them due to the overflow of mail in the tenants’ mailboxes. The landlord and tenants had been engaged in protracted litigation, so counsel sent the NOT and checks to their counsel, who responded that he was “not authorized to accept” the payments.The landlord filed this unlawful detainer action. The tenants asserted affirmative defenses relating to the landlord’s lack of intent to withdraw the unit from the market and non-compliance with the Ellis Act. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment against the tenants, sustaining relevance objections to the tenants’ evidence. The tenants failed to raise a triable issue of material fact as to compliance with the Ellis Act and Rent Ordinance. View "640 Octavia LLC v. Pieper" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the underlying eviction proceedings brought under Nebraska's Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (the NURLTA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 76-1401, holding that this case was moot.After Defendant allegedly breached the terms of her residential lease agreement Plaintiff, Defendant's landlord, terminated the lease. When Defendant refused to leave the property Plaintiff initiated eviction proceedings. The county court found in favor of Plaintiff and issued a writ of restitution. Defendant appealed, holding that section 76-1446, which mandates a bench trial for a possession action under the NURLTA, violated her constitutional right to a jury trial. The Supreme Court dismissed Defendant's appeal, holding that Defendant's arguments on appeal were moot, and none of the mootness exceptions applied. View "NP Dodge Management Co. v. Holcomb" on Justia Law

by
In a forceable entry and detainer (FED) action, the Oregon Supreme Court was asked to determine the proper calculation of damages that could be awarded to a tenant, following multiple instances of landlord noncompliance with certain utility billing requirements that repeated each month, over a series of months. After plaintiff (landlord) brought an FED action against defendant (tenant) to recover possession of the landlord’s premises, tenant alleged a counterclaim that landlord had failed to comply with certain utility billing requirements found in ORS 90.315(4)(b). The trial court agreed with tenant, concluding that landlord had committed 12 separate violations—one per month over the 12 months within the one-year statute of limitations that governed Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (ORLTA) actions, and awarded tenant statutory damages in an amount equal to 12 months of rent. On landlord’s appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the plain text of ORS 90.315(4)(f) showed that the legislature had not intended for each landlord billing violation to be subject to a separate sanction. The Oregon Supreme Court concurred with the appellate court and affirmed. View "Shepard Investment Group LLC v. Ormandy" on Justia Law

by
Sathiyaselvam Thangavel and Sasikala Muthusamy were tenants who leased an apartment from Seaford Apartment Ventures, LLC. The complaint filed by Seaford Apartment’s insurer, Donegal Mutual Insurance Company, alleged that the tenants hit a sprinkler head while they flew a drone inside the apartment. Water sprayed from the damaged sprinkler head and caused damage to the apartment building. Seaford Apartment filed an insurance claim with Donegal, who paid $77,704.06 to repair the water damage. Donegal then brought this action against the tenants through subrogation and alleged that the tenants were negligent and breached the property’s rules and regulations. Donegal sought to recover the repair costs from the tenants. Under the "Sutton" rule, landlords and tenants are co-insureds under the landlord’s fire insurance policy unless a tenant’s lease clearly expresses an intent to the contrary. If the Sutton rule applies, the landlord’s insurer cannot pursue the tenant for the landlord’s damages by way of subrogation. In this case, a Delaware superior court ruled in the tenants’ favor at summary judgment that the Sutton rule applied because the lease did not clearly express an intent to hold the tenants liable for the landlord’s damages. To this the Delaware Supreme Court agreed and affirmed. View "Donegal Mutual Insurance Company v. Thangavel" on Justia Law