Friday, March 23, 2012

Javins v. First National Realty Corp. case brief

Javins v. First National Realty Corp. (1970)

D refused to pay rent due to numerous housing code violations.
  1. Rule: Leases of urban dwelling units contain an implied warranty of habitability, and breach of this warranty gives rise to the usual remedies for breach of contract.
  2. The implied warranty of habitability is found to be coextensive with the requirements of the housing code in some jurisdictions. In others it is more evidence of breach of warranty. The breach of one covenant by the LL excuses the tenant’s counterperformance [breaches of mutually dependent covenants]. The lease is treated as a contract rather than as a conveyance of real property under these theories.
  1. Allowing the tenant to raise the LL’s violation of the housing code or analogous failures to provide habitable premises makes eviction proceedings considerably more complicated. Because of this, the defense seems to contradict the policy underlying summary process statutes, whose purpose was to provide the LL with relatively expeditious proceedings for eviction of tenants who were violating the terms of the lease.
  1. A landlord’s complaint may seek:
    1. payment of back rent
    2. possession of the premises (eviction)
    3. damages resulting form tenant’s breach of lease
  2. A tenant may sue LL first and seek
    1. damages resulting from LL’s negligent maint. or comp. for injuries resulting form LL’s failure to comply with the housing code
    2. injunction ordering repairs so as to comply with terms of lease/housing code
  3. If LL breaches lease by physically banning the tenant from the property, tenant’s obligation ceases entirely
    1. placement of new lock on door constitutes actual eviction
    2. tenant may sue LL for damages for trespass and may seek and injunction ordering LL to reconvey possession of premises.
    3. if LL only bars tenant from part of leased property, T has the right to move out before end of lease and will not be liable for rent after moving out
    4. if he stays, T is obligated to pay rent completely even though the tenant continues to occupy the rest of the premises

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