Leaseholds

Damages awarded tenant when landlord threatens to engage in illegal self-help eviction

The Maryland Supreme Court held that residential tenants can sue for damages if the landlord posts a notice telling them that they are being evicted. This constitutes a form of "nonjudicial self-help eviction" prohibited by state law, which requires landlords to use court eviction procedures to recover possession of the premises. State law would have allowed self...

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Commercial lease disclaimer of liability for negligence held to be enforceable

A California appeals court has found a disclaimer of liability for negligence in a commercial lease to be enforceable and not to violate public policy even though a state statute made them invalid as to cases involving fraud, willful injuries, gross negligence, or violations of law. Garcia v. D/AQ Corp., 271 Cal. Rptr. 3d 861 (Ct. App. 2020). This case did not fit in...

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Tenant not entitled to damages under the implied warranty of habitability for injuries from slipping on an icy driveway

The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held, in Goreham v. Martins, 147 N.E.3d 478 (Mass. 2020), that a landlord is not liable for injuries to a tenant who slips on ice in the driveway under the implied warranty of habitability because such claims are, in effect, strict liability claims and injuries to the body in the context of landlord-...

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Two court reject impossibility defense to tenant rent obligations under government shutdown orders while one abates rent under the wording of the force majeure clause

When Governor Cuomo ordered most businesses to stop serving the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, some could not generate the income needed to pay rent. Some have argued that the impossibility of earning profits to pay rents should constitute a defense to the contractual obligation to pay rent. Two courts in New York have now rejected that argument, including the federal Southern District and a state supreme court.

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Tenants have the right to receive guests

Affirming a traditional rule of law, the D.C. Court of Appeals held that tenants have the right to receive guests even over the objections of the landlord. Odumn v. United States, 227 A.3d 1099 (D.C. 2020). Defendant was charged with criminal trespass for violating a no-trespass order by the landlord but because he was on the property at the invitation of his aunt, who was a tenant...

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Rules governing court-ordered rental payments while eviction litigation is pending

When a landlord sued to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent, the court ordered to make rental payments (for "use and occupancy") during trial. The Massachusetts Appeals Court held that before ordering such payments, the trial judge must hold a hearing to determine whether the payments should be reduced because of defective conditions in the property....

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Commercial tenant right to lost profits and specific performance when landlord breaches lease obligation to make structural repairs

When a landlord breached a commercial lease obligation to make structural repairs to the property, the tenant was entitled to lost profits in addition to specific performance. Motsis v. Ming's Supermarket, Inc., 2019 WL 5704322 (Mass. App. Ct. 2019). The tenant had been...

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