Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate Law
St. Louis Ass’n of Realtors v. City of Ferguson
The City of Ferguson enacted an ordinance that made it unlawful for property owners to rent or lease their property without a rental license obtained after the owners undertook building inspections, filed affidavits stating whether any adult tenants were registered as sex offenders, and retained a property manager. The St. Louis Association of Realtors petitioned for a declaratory judgment, challenged the validity of the ordinance on constitutional and statutory grounds. The trial court dismissed the petition without addressing the merits of the challenge, holding that the Association lacked standing to file suit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Association satisfied the requirements for associational standing by showing that at least one of its members would have standing to sue, that the interests the suit sought to protect were germane to the Association's purpose, and that neither the claim asserted nor relief requested required the participation of individual members in the lawsuit. Remanded.View "St. Louis Ass'n of Realtors v. City of Ferguson" on Justia Law
Jackson v. Dackman Co.
Plaintiffs, a minor and her mother, sued Defendants, owners of residential rental properties, for negligence and deceptive practices in violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act after the minor suffered brain injuries allegedly resulting from her ingestion of lead-based paint at one of Defendants' properties. Defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that they had complied with the Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Act by registering their property, and therefore, they were immune from suit under the immunity provisions of the Act. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants, holding (1) the Act's provisions granting immunity were constitutional, and (2) Defendants' registration renewals were timely because they were mailed on December 31. The court of special appeals reversed, holding that Defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity because they did not fully comply with the Act where the renewal of their registration was not received by December 31. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded with directions to reverse the circuit court, holding that the immunity provisions in the Act were invalid under the Maryland Declaration of Rights because no adequate remedy was substituted for the grant of immunity and the victim was uncompensated for her injuries.View "Jackson v. Dackman Co." on Justia Law
Harrington v. Metropolis Property Management Group, Inc.
Petitioner Joel Harrington appealed a superior court order in favor of Respondent Metropolis Property Management Group, Inc. (Metropolis). On May 27, 2005, Petitioner entered into a residential lease for an apartment at Hollis Commons Apartments in Concord. The lease agreement required the petitioner to pay a security deposit of $875 to be held "until the termination of Lessee's occupancy." Petitioner entered into two lease renewals, the first in May 2006 renewing the lease for one year, and another in June 2007. The second renewal called for a term commencing on July 1, 2007, and ending "60 days after written notice has been given." The original lease agreement and both lease renewals identified "Hollis Commons Apartments, LLC" as the lessor. The parties had a dispute over the lease agreement and return of the security deposit. Petitioner argued that the trial court erred in finding that Metropolis was not a party to the lease agreement, and in dismissing his contract claims. Although the lease agreement and renewals all show "Hollis Commons Apartments, LLC" as the lessor and either Petitioner or the Petitioner and his wife as the lessees, Petitioner contended that Metropolis must be considered a party to the agreement. Upon review of the trial court record and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision to dismiss Petitioner's case.View "Harrington v. Metropolis Property Management Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Nashua Housing Authority v. Wilson
Defendant-Tenant Wendy Wilson appealed a district court ruling that she breached her lease with Plaintiff Nashua Housing Authority. She rented an apartment in a public housing development. The lease provided that tenants "shall not engage in any drug related criminal activity on or off NHA property." Breach of that clause is cause for eviction from the leased unit. After reading a newspaper article about Defendant's arrest, the landlord sent her an eviction notice and subsequently brought a possessory action against Defendant for breach of the lease. At the eviction proceeding, the landlord introduced three criminal drug complaints that alleged Defendant "unlawfully dispensed and sold a certain narcotic drug, to wit: morphine." Defendant contended on appeal that the criminal complaints were not sufficient to prove she breached her lease. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court found that the criminal complaints were not sufficient to prove that Defendant had actually engaged in the alleged activity. As such, the Court reversed the eviction court's decision to the contrary.View "Nashua Housing Authority v. Wilson" on Justia Law
MPQ, Inc. v. Birmingham Realty Co.
Two appeals between MPQ, Inc. (d/b/a Freedom Enterprises) and Birmingham Realty Company were consolidated by the Supreme Court for the purposes of this opinion. The parties entered into a commercial lease agreement. Birmingham Realty filed suit against MPQ for unpaid rent in circuit court. MPQ filed a counterclaim. Birmingham Realty filed a separate unlawful-detainer action against MPQ in district court. The district court dismissed the detainer action, reasoning that the simultaneous actions in the district and circuit courts violated Alabama's abatement statute. Birmingham Realty appealed the district court's dismissal to the circuit court and filed a motion to dismiss MPQ's counterclaim. The circuit court conducted a hearing on all pending motions. It then entered an order affirming the district court's dismissal of the unlawful-detainer action and dismissed MPQ's counterclaims in the rent action. The court suggested that Birmingham Realty move to dismiss the rent action without prejudice so it could refile its unlawful-detainer action in the district court and then later refile an action in circuit court to seek the unpaid rent. Birmingham Realty took the court's advice and filed the suggested motions. MPQ filed a motion to alter, amend or vacate the court's decision in its counterclaim. The circuit court did not rule on either motion. The parties appealed to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Supreme Court found Birmingham Realty's appeal from the district court to the circuit court was not timely, and as such, the court did not have jurisdiction over the appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and cross-appeal with regard to the unlawful-detainer action and remanded the remaining issues for further proceedings.View "MPQ, Inc. v. Birmingham Realty Co." on Justia Law
Siwinski v. Town of Ogden Dunes
Steven and Lauren Siwinski, homeowners in the town of Ogden Dunes, rented their home despite receiving a cease and desist letter advising them that that rentals were prohibited by the town zoning ordinances. The town filed suit against the Siwinskis for violating town ordinances. Both parties moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the town's motion for summary judgment and injunctive relief. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the town in the amount of $40,000. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with instructions that the trial court enter summary judgment in favor of the Siwinskis. On transfer, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of the town, holding that the Siwinskis impermissibly rented their dwelling in violation of the town's ordinances. The Court then held that the fine for violating this ordinance should not have exceeded $32,500. Remanded. View "Siwinski v. Town of Ogden Dunes" on Justia Law
Marathon Oil Co. v. Dep’t. of Natural Resources
Gas producers that lease land from Alaska must pay royalties calculated on the value of the gas produced from the leased area. The royalty may be calculated in one of two methods: the “higher of” pricing or contract pricing. “Higher of” pricing is the default method of calculating royalties and is calculated using market data and the prices of other producers. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) usually does not calculate the royalty payments under “higher of” pricing until years after production. Under contract pricing, the lessee’s price at which it sells gas is used to determine the royalty payment. Appellant Marathon Oil requested contract pricing from 2008 onward and sought retroactive application of contract pricing for 2003-2008. The DNR approved contract pricing from 2008 onward but denied the retroactive application. The superior court affirmed the DNR’s decision. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Marathon argued that the statute that governs contract pricing permitted retroactive application of contract pricing. Upon review of the arguments and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court concluded that though the statute was ambiguous, it would defer to the DNR’s interpretation. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the superior court’s decision to uphold the DNR’s order.View "Marathon Oil Co. v. Dep't. of Natural Resources" on Justia Law