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Mallets Bay Homeowner’s Association appealed the trial court’s partial denial of its motion to stay the issuance of a writ of possession in favor of Mongeon Bay Properties (MBP) following the termination of the Association’s ground lease. Members of the Mongeon family set up a partnership to own the land under approximately 25 camps, and the partnership entered into a ground lease with the Association, rather than the individual owners of each residence. The ground lease was due to expire in 2036. The lease contained a forfeiture clause, providing that the lease would terminate “if the [Association] shall fail to perform or comply with any terms of this Lease.” MBP sued the Association in January 2012, seeking damages and termination of the ground lease because the Association had failed to perform reasonable repairs and upkeep as required by the lease. The trial court concluded that the Association’s failure to properly maintain the property and the resulting damage amounted to “waste,” and therefore the Association had violated the lease. However, the trial court determined that terminating the lease under the default provision was inequitable and instead awarded MBP damages to cover the cost of repairing the property. On appeal, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s determination that the Association had breached the lease, but remanded for reconsideration of MBP’s remedy. In 2016, the Association requested that the trial court stay the issuance of a writ of possession, arguing there was good cause for the court to stay the writ until 2036, when the lease was set to expire. The trial court entered judgment in favor of MBP, terminated the ground lease, and held MBP was to be granted a writ of possession for the property. After review, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s order in part, and remanded for the trial court to exercise its discretion. On remand, the question about which the trial court should exercise its discretion was whether to grant a longer stay than reflected in an October 31 order. The trial court could exercise that discretion on the basis of the parties’ pleadings, or decide to not hold any further hearings unless it chooses to. View "Mongeon Bay Properties, LLC v. Mallets Bay Homeowner's Assn., Inc." on Justia Law

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Nearly 20 years after defendants built, sold, and leased back a Rockport Indiana coal-burning power plant, they committed, in a consent decree resolving lawsuits involving alleged Clean Air Act violations at their other power plants, to either make over a billion dollars of emission control improvements to the plant, or shut it down. The sale and leaseback arrangement was a means of financing construction. Defendants then obtained a modification to the consent decree providing that these improvements need not be made until after their lease expired, pushing their commitments to improve the air quality of the plant’s emissions to the plaintiff, the investors who had financed construction and who would own the plant after the 33-year lease term. The district court held this encumbrance did not violate the parties’ contracts governing the sale and leaseback, and that plaintiff’s breach of contract claims precluded it from maintaining an alternative cause of action for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that a Permitted Lien exception in the lease unambiguously supports the plaintiff’s position and that the defendants’ actions “materially adversely affected’ plaintiff’s interests. View "Wilmington Trust Co. v. AEP Generating Co." on Justia Law

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The Lansaws operated a daycare in space leased from Zokaites. After they entered into a new lease with a different landlord, but before they moved, Zokaites served them with a Notice for Distraint, claiming a lien against personal property for unpaid rent. The following day, the Lansaws filed for bankruptcy, triggering the automatic stay, 11 U.S.C. 362(a). Zokaites’s attorney was notified of the filing on August 17, 2006. On August 21, Zokaites and his attorney entered the daycare during business hours, by following a parent, and photographed the Lansaws’ personal property. On August 27, Zokaites entered after business hours, using his key, then padlocked the doors, leaving a note stating that Zokaites would not unchain the doors unless Mrs. Lansaw’s mother agreed that she had not been assaulted by Zokaites, the Lansaws reaffirmed their lease with Zokaites, and the Lansaws ceased removing property from the daycare. The Lansaws removed the chains and slept in the building. Zokaites locked the door from the outside and left with the Lansaws’ keys. The Lansaws called the police. Meanwhile, Zokaites attorney communicated by phone and letter with the new landlord, stating that, if the new lease was not terminated, Zokaites would sue the new landlord. In an adversary proceeding, the Bankruptcy Court awarded the Lansaws attorney fees ($2,600), emotional-distress damages ($7,500) and punitive damages ($40,000) under 11 U.S.C. 362(k)(1). The district court and Third Circuit affirmed. Section 362(k)(1) authorizes the award of emotional-distress damages; the Lansaws presented sufficient evidence to support the award. View "In re: Lansaw" on Justia Law

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The landlord filed a unlawful detainer action against Nancy, her adult son Donn, and Donn‘s wife Olga, alleging that they refused to vacate a unit in a building that was withdrawn from residential rental use pursuant the Ellis Act. (Gov. Code 7060). The trial court granted a motion to quash the complaint, finding that the landlord failed to tender a relocation payment to Donn and Olga‘s minor son David, as required by section 37.9A(e) of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance. The landlord had paid each of the adults $2,632.55 and had given Nancy another $1,755.03, as payment of the first half of additional relocation payment due to her senior status. The appellate division of the superior court affirmed the trial court‘s order. The court of appeal reversed, holding that a minor displaced by an Ellis Act eviction is not a “tenant” under the Ordinance. The court distinguished between “lawful occupants” and “tenants.” View "Danger Panda, LLC v. Launiu" on Justia Law

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Tok Hwang owned a lessee interest in, and related improvements on, a commercial lot (the leasehold) near the Denali National Park entrance. Hwang leased the lot from a third party for $20,000 annually. Hwang subleased the leasehold to Alaska Fur Gallery, Inc. in April 2012. The sublease (the lease) provided that Alaska Fur would pay $55,000 annual rent for a three-summer term. The disputed provision stated, in full: “Lease includes an option to purchase premises with lease amount to be applied to negotiated purchase price.” When the sublessee attempted to exercise the option the lessee declined to sell, claiming the option was unenforceable. The sublessee sued, seeking, among other things, to enforce the option provision. The superior court held that the provision was too uncertain to enforce either as an option or as an agreement to negotiate. The sublessee appealed; but finding no reversible error in the superior court’s decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Alaska Fur Gallery, Inc. v. Hwang" on Justia Law

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Two trial courts invalidated San Francisco ordinances increasing the relocation assistance payments property owners owe their tenants under the Ellis Act, Gov. Code 7060, finding the ordinances facially preempted by the Act. The Ellis Act prohibits a city or county from “compel[ling] the owner of any residential real property to offer, or to continue to offer, accommodations in the property for rent or lease.” The ordinances, intended to mitigate the impact of evictions on low-income tenants, required the greater of either an inflation-adjusted base relocation payout per tenant of $5,555.21 to $16,665.59 per unit, with an additional payment of $3,703.46 to each elderly or disabled evicted tenant or “the difference between the tenant’s current rent and the prevailing rent for a comparable apartment in San Francisco over a two-year period.” In a consolidated appeal, the court of appeal affirmed, stating that “a locality may not impose additional burdensome requirements upon the exercise of state statutory remedies that undermine the very purpose of the state statute.” View "Coyne v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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Between 2012 and 2014, three University of Michigan students (plaintiffs) rented rooms from Alawi, which collected $2550 in security deposits from the three. When they moved out, they received their security deposits back, minus small deductions for minor damages to the properties. Plaintiffs believed that Alawi had not complied with Michigan law, which requires landlords to deposit security deposits in a regulated financial institution and to provide the address of that institution to the tenant. The plaintiffs sued Alawi for $6.6 million on behalf of a putative class of six years’ worth of tenants, alleging violations of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and Michigan law; alleging that Alawi was not entitled to hold security deposits at all (given these alleged breaches of Michigan law), and that knowingly taking security deposits anyway constituted a pattern of federal wire, mail, and bank fraud. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the RICO claim. The complaint failed to articulate any concrete injury; its allegations were too vague to meet the particularity requirement of fraud allegations under Civil Rule 9(b). View "Wall v. Michigan Rental" on Justia Law

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Landlord leased commercial real estate to Tenant, a third party. The lease agreement provided on option to purchase with a condition precedent. At the time Tenant assigned this purchase option to Assignees, Tenant had fully performed all obligations under the lease. When Assignees attempted to exercise the purchase option, Landlord denied the attempt, arguing that because of certain rental underpayments, which were later paid in full, Tenant had failed to satisfy the condition precedent. Assignees filed a complaint seeking specific performance of the purchase option. Landlord later moved for specific performance of the terms and provisions of the purchase option. The district court sustained Landlord’s motion, and Assignees purchased the property. The district court then entered judgment in Assignees’ favor and awarded equitable monetary relief for lost rentals. Landlord appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) Landlord was judicially estopped from asserting the condition precedent in avoidance of equitable monetary relief; and (2) Landlord was entitled to offset the monetary award with the interest on the unpaid purchase price. View "O'Connor v. Kearny Junction, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Bayal Restaurant Inc. entered into a lease agreement with the predecessor in interest to plaintiff to rent certain commercial property. Aly Diene (Defendant), in consideration of the lease, executed a personal guaranty. In 2013, title to the premises was conveyed to OSJ of Providence, LLC (Plaintiff). In conjunction with the conveyance, all rights of the seller were transferred to Plaintiff. After Bayal defaulted on the terms of the lease, Plaintiff demanded overdue rent, interest, and fees. When Plaintiff did not receive the full amount requested, Plaintiff filed a complaint for eviction for nonpayment of rent. The parties entered into a stipulated judgment, but Bayal failed to make any payments pursuant to the stipulated judgment. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant for default on the guaranty. Summary judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiff as to Defendant’s liability under the guaranty. After a hearing, judgment was entered for Plaintiff in the amount of $37,760.04. The Supreme Court denied Defendant’s appeal, holding (1) Plaintiff’s claim was not time-barred; and (2) the hearing justice properly granted Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. View "OSJ of Providence, LLC v. Diene" on Justia Law

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The property owners, participants in the “Section 8” federal rental assistance program (42 U.S.C. 1437f(a)), sued the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for allegedly breaching the contracts that governed payments to the owners under the program, by failing to approve automatic rent increases for certain years, by requiring the owners to submit comparability studies in order to receive increases, and by arbitrarily reducing the increases for non-turnover units by one percent. Because Wisconsin Housing receives all of its Section 8 funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Authority filed a third-party breach of contract claim against HUD. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Wisconsin Housing and dismissed the claims against HUD as moot. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the owners’ Section 8 contracts were renewed after the challenged requirements became part of the program. “The doctrine of disproportionate forfeiture simply does not apply,” and Wisconsin Housing did not breach any contracts by requiring rent comparability studies in certain circumstances or by applying a one percent reduction for non-turnover units. View "Evergreen Square of Cudahy v. Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority" on Justia Law