Slavin v. Rent Control Board of Brookline case brief
Slavin v. Rent Control Board of Brookline case brief summary
548 N.E.2d 1226 (Mass. 1990)
Defendant Rent Control Board appealed an
order of the Appellate Division of the District Court Department
(Massachusetts), which affirmed annulment of defendant's decision to
refuse issuance of a certificate of eviction, ordered certificate's
issuance, and awarded plaintiff landlord double costs and attorney
fees, finding defendant exceeded its authority by making
determinations of law.
CASE FACTS Plaintiff landlord sought to evict a
tenant for violating an obligation of his tenancy. Defendant Rent
Control Board found that the tenant had allowed another person to
occupy his apartment without first obtaining plaintiff's written
consent. Nonetheless, defendant refused to issue the eviction
certificate, observing that plaintiff had not acted reasonably in
categorically refusing to allow the tenant to bring in someone new
after his original co-tenant moved out. Plaintiff obtained judicial
review, and the trial court annulled defendant's decision and ordered
the certificate's issuance.
The appellate court affirmed, and finding
defendant lacked authority to make determinations of law, imposed
double costs and counsel fees.
The court found
that imposition of an obligation for a landlord to act reasonably was
a public policy matter for the legislature.
However, the appellate
court lacked authority to impose costs and fees on parties, such as
defendant, who litigated in good faith.
The order was reversed in part. Defendant Rent Control Board had
to issue a certificate of eviction because plaintiff landlord was not
statutorily obligated to act reasonably in considering a tenant's
request to assign or sublease; however, defendant did not have to pay
double costs and attorney fees because its litigation was not
frivolous. Recommended Supplements and Study Aids for Property Law
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