Tenancy (or Occupancy) at Sufferance
· Defined – Results when a tenant originally in rightful possession under a valid lease “holds over” (remains in possession) after his lease expires; right to possession is based on the landlord’s laches or neglect.
· Common Law Rule – Landlord could evict holdover tenant or consent to his possession by accepting rent and treat him as an election to extend the lease for another term or period.
· Majority Rule (R2P) – Landlord may not unilaterally hold the tenant to another term where equitable considerations justify giving the tenant an extension of time to vacate.
· Additional Minority Rule – Landlord is required to provide the tenant at sufferance with notice before terminating the tenancy or instituting an ouster action.
1. Assignment 1: The Right To Exclude Others From Property
1. Quick Reference Rules:
1. Right to Exclude Others: When nominal damages are awarded for an intentional trespass to land, punitive damages may also be awarded at the jury’s discretion. (Jacque and Jacque v. Steenberg Homes, Inc.)
2. Right to Exclude Others: Trespass to chattels does not encompass an electronic communication that neither damages a recipient computer system nor impairs its functioning.
2. Property System: Controls Acquisition, Use, and Distribution of Valued Resources.
3. Resources can be real Property, tangible personal property, intangible personal property, and intellectual property.
4. Property = the legal relationship among people with respect to a particular item of wealth.
1. Viewed as a “bundle of rights” -ex. Individual right to buy, sell, lease, etc.
1. Real Property: land and stuff attached to land.
2. Personal Property: Chattel. Highly moveable usually.
3. Intangible Property: Symbolic items, ec. Stock certificate.
6. Alienate: Transfer of Property by sale, gift, trade, transfer by will, inherit.
7. Exclusive Possession & Interference
1. Legitimate interest in excluding people from land alone.
2. No legitimate interest in exclusion pers se from chattel.
3. There is a legitimate interest in preventing harm to chattel.
2. Jaque and Jaque v. Steenberg Homes Inc. (1997)
1. Issue: When nominal damages are awarded for an intentional trespass to land, may punitive damages also be awarded at the jury’s discretion?
2. Facts: (P) brought suit against (D) claiming intentional trespass to land, when (D) plowed a path across their field, over the protests, in order to deliver a mobile home.
3. Rule of Law: When nominal damages are awarded for an intentional trespass to land, punitive damages may also be awarded at the jury’s discretion.
3. Intel Corporation v. Hamidi (2003):
1. Issue: Does trespass to chattels encompass an electronic communication that neither damages a recipient computer system nor impairs its functioning?
2. Facts: (D) and his organization, Former and Current Employees of Intel (FACE-Intel), mass-mailed e-mail that were critical of Intel Corp. (P) to thousands of Intel Employees. (P) claimed that this conduct constituted trespass to chattel because it intermeddled with its personal property (computers.)
3. Rue of Law: Trespass to chattels does not encompass an electronic communication that neither damages a recipient computer system nor impairs its functioning.
2. Assignment 3: Landlord-Tenant: The Right of Exclusive Physical Possession:
1. Quick Reference Rules:
1. What is a Lease? An agreement to permit the operation of a business in a store in an unspecified area is a lease where the parties act upon it so as to relate to a specific place and use the leasehold terminology in the writing. (Becket v. City of Paris Dry Goods.)
2. License Agreement: A license agreement is formed when a tenant does not have exclusive possession or any interest whatsoever in the premises being leased. (Wenner and City of Pheonix v. Dayton – Hudson Corporation)
3. Encroachment on a Lease Term: The encroachment of a structure upon a portion of a leasehold constitutes an eviction and a defense to the entire rental payent otherwise due. (Smith v. McEnany)
4. Quiet Enjoyment: The law implies a covenant of quiet enjoyment, which obligates the LL to refrain from interfering with the tenant’s possession of the premises during the period of the tenancy. (Echo Consulting Services v. North Conway Bank)
2. Leasehold Estate: A possessory interest that normally gives the tenant the right to exclusive possession.
3. Lease v. License:
1. License: merely authorizes the licensee to use land in possession of another. Arises from he consent of the owner of the possessory interest.
1. Revokable: personal, revokable, unasignable permission to use land, without possessing interest in land.
2. Unassignable: Since the license has no interest in land, they cannot assign the interest to another.
2. Lease: a possessory interest in land that creates a landlord-tenant relationship, with all of the rights and obligations associated with that relationship.A lease requires no particular terminology or agreement to exist. Lease must answere:
1. Is it revocable, and under what conditions?
2. Is it assignable, and under what conditions?
3. Must include a definite description of the property to be leased. The mere fact that a tenant can be moved a to another a single apartment building does not per se preclude a landlord-tenant relationship.
4. Lessee must have exclusive, physical possession of property. However, reasonable delays in conveyance are acceptable.
3. Becket v. City of Paris Dry Goods (1939):
1. Issue: Is an agreement to permit the operation of a business in a store in an unspecified area a lease where the parties act upon it so as to relate to a specific place and use the leasehold terminology in writing?
2. Facts: (D) permitted (P) to operate an optometry office within (D’s) store under an agreement setting forth the usual leasehold provisions that did not specify the place for the shop; however, (P) occupied the same space until he was removed after a short notice.
3. Rule:An agreement to permit the operation of a business in a store in an in a specified area is a lease where the parties act upon it so as to relate to a specific place and use the leasehold terminology in the writing.
4. Wenner and City of Pheonix v. Dayton-Hudson Corporation (1979):
1. Issue: Is a license agreement formed when a tenant does not have exclusive possession or any interest whatsoever in the premises being lease?
2. Facts: (P) challenged a one percent privilege tax assessed by the City of Phoenix (D) on funds derived from the sublease of portions of its department stores.
3. Rule: A license agreement is formed when a tenant does not have exclusive possession of any interest whatsoever in the premises being leased.
1. (Restatement 2nd § 1.1)–says this is ok, tenant shift from one location to another does not prevent this arrangement.
4. Claims against Landlord:
1. Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment: A promise on the part of the landlord that neither the landlord nor anyone with either a superior title or a title derivative of the landlord will wrongfully interfere with the tenant’s use and enjoyment of the leased property. By signing the lease the landlord impliedly promises that she is granting the right to exclusive physical possession of the leased premises. (p. 48)
2. Tenancy: Non-freehold estate, distinguished from a free-hold estate because freeholds are possessory interests for an indeterminate period, while a non-freehold is for a specific period.
3. Interference at Commencement of the Lease Term:
1. Some states: LL signing the lease is an implied promise that he is granting the right to physical possession of the leased premises. (aspect of LL’s covenant of quiet enjoyment implied in all leases).
2. Majority: LL is obligated to deliver actual physical possession to the tenant. (Restatement adopts majority)
1. Tenant not required to pay rent during a time that she is unable to obtain actual physical possession of the premises
3. Restatement 2 of Property: incoming tenant may not terminate if the LL removes the holdover within a reasonable time.
4. Few: It is up with the new tenant to deal with any holdover tenant, and LL doesn’t have to deliver actual possession.
4. Interference During the Lease Term:
1. If Disturbed by landlord during lease: claim at both commencement and during the lease.
2. If during the terms of the lease the Tenant is wronged by an independent third party, the landlord has no recourse: Claim against LL at commencement, but not during the lease.
5. If it is disturbed by someone with paramount title: Claim against LL at commencement and during terms of le
and oral leases.
3. Tenant cannot waive benefits.
3. Included?—-SUBSTANTIAL- make the premises uninhabitable or unfit in the eyes of a reasonable person. (objective test)
1. Any substantial violation of a housing code, or
2. Heat, hot water, plumbing, safe kitchen appliances, safe and sound structural conditions, and safety or health concerns.
4. Not included?–these are de minimus
1. Luxury items.
2. Health concerns from adjacent property.
3. Things like window blinds, cracks in plaster, or needing paint.
5. Breach? (3 things)
1. LL must have had notice of the condition.
2. Defect must be susbstantial
3. LL must have been given a reasonable time to repair the defect.
1. ii. Waiver –
1. Majority – Tenant cannot waive the warranty because it is against public policy (i.e., by continuing to live on uninhabitable property).
2. Minority – Warranty of habitability may be waived if:
a. Tenant is aware of a defective physical condition upon leasing and the landlord has not indicated he would repair or improve.
b. The parties did not expect there to be a warranty of habitability.
c. When the contracted rent is equal to or less than fair rental value.
7. Tenant’s options (3)
1. Withhold rent until necessary repairs are made.
1. T should deposit in escrow if it is not authorized by state statute
1. Notice to LL
2. Reasonable time to repair.
3. Notice of rent withholding.
4. Deposit into escrow.
2. Sue the LL to collect damages.
3. Repair and deduct the cost from rent due.
8. If the LL wrongfully evicts the tenant, tenant can terminate.
9. Damages: allowed to seek “difference money”
1. the difference between the fair rental value of the premises as warranted less the fair value in an unrepaired condition
2. the difference between the reserved or contract rent, less the fair value in an unrepaired condition.
3. (Some courts) The percentage of the contract rent by which the tenant’s use and enjoyment of the premises has been reduced.
10. Some jurisdiction only allow recovery for lost rent (general damages) and require a second action for damages from the inhabitability.
1. Special damages: when it’s a foreseeable result from LL’s breach. Emotional distress, punitive damages from “slumlord..” Punitve likely when the LL flouts the tenant’s request to repair up to code or puts an exculpatory covenant on the lease.
3. Marini v. Ireland (1970):
1. Issue: When a LL fails to make necessary repairs during the period of a lease or residential promises, does such failure constitute a violation of the covenant of habitability that entitles the tenant to self help?
2. Fact: After (D) leased certain resident premises from (P), certain repairs became necessary and, when (P) refused to make such repairs, (D) made them and offset the cost thereof against her rent.
3. Rule: The implied covenant of habitability and livability of fitness, which is found in every lease of residential premises, requires that the LL maintain the leased premises in a livable condition “throughout the term of the lease” and, if the land-lord fails, after timely and adequate notice of faulty conditions, to make repairs and replacements necessary to maintain the premises in a livable condition, the tenant may (1) leave the premises with no further rent owing (constructive eviction), or (2) make the necessary repairs himself and deduct the cost thereof from future rents.