Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant

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The Supreme Court held in this eviction action that, under the circumstances of this case, the retaliation defense was not available under Minn. Stat. 504B.441 but that the common law should recognize a defense when a landlord retaliates against a tenant for making a good-faith complaint to the landlord of a material violation of a local or state law, residential covenants, or the lease. By special verdict, a jury found that Tenant materially violated the terms of the lease but that Landlord retaliated against Tenant as a penalty for complaining about the condition of the leased premises. The district court entered judgment for possession of the rental unit in favor of Tenant apparently based on the retaliation defense under Minn. Stat. 504B.285, subd. 2, and Minn. Stat. 504B.441. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the retaliation defense was unavailable to Tenant under either statutory provision. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Tenant could not assert a statutory defense; but (2) the language of the verdict was adequate to satisfy the requirements of the common-law retaliation defense that the Court recognized today. View "Central Housing Associates, LP v. Olson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court finding for Tenant in the underlying eviction proceedings brought by Landlord and concluding that Landlord had breached the covenants of habitability, holding that a tenant asserting a common-law habitability defense in an eviction proceeding is not required to follow the procedures for an action under the rent-escrow statute, Minn. Stat. 504B.385. In response to Landlord’s action, Tenant raised the common-law habitability defense. The district court agreed with Tenant and ordered retroactive and prospective rent abatement until Landlord’s habitability violations were fixed. On appeal, Landlord argued that a tenant must follow the statutory procedures, including written notice, for a rent-escrow action under section 504B.385. The court of appeals held that Tenant was not required to do so. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that written notice is not required before a tenant raises a common-law habitability defense to an eviction proceeding. View "Ellis v. Doe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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Appellant agreed with Respondent to rent an apartment located in Hennepin County. Respondent received the first month’s rent and security deposit but refused to deliver physical possession of the premises to Appellant. Appellant brought an unlawful exclusion petition under Minn. Stat. 504B.375 - the unlawful exclusion statute - to enforce her agreement with Respondent. The housing referee recommended granting Respondent’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that Appellant did not qualify as a “residential tenant” under the statute because she was not physically “occupying” the residential premises. The district court adopted the referee’s decision. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a tenant who holds the present legal right to occupy residential rental property pursuant to a lease or contract satisfies the definition of “residential tenant” under Minn. Stat. 504B.001, and (2) therefore, upon the effective date of a lease agreement, a tenant has the right to bring an unlawful removal or exclusion petition under Minn. Stat. 504B.375(1). View "Cocchiarella v. Driggs" on Justia Law

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The apartment building in which Tenants lived was damaged by a fire. For purposes of this appeal, the parties agreed that the fire was caused by Tenants’ negligence. Landlord’s insurer paid for the repairs to the building and then brought this subrogation action against Tenants in the name of Landlord to recover the money it paid to repair the damage caused by the fire. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Tenants, determining that the parties did not reasonably expect that Tenants would be liable for the damage they caused. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the lease agreement clearly reflected the parties’ intention that Tenants would reimburse Landlord for any damage caused by their negligence. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) under the circumstances of this case, it is reasonable that Tenants should be liable for negligence they caused to the leased premises; but (2) the parties would not reasonably have expected that Tenants would be liable for damage to other property belonging to Landlord. Remanded. View "Melrose Gates, LLC v. Moua" on Justia Law

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Minn. Stat. 504B.177 generally places a limitation on late fees for residential housing tenants at eight percent of the overdue rent payment. In this case, Respondent, a tenant living in federally subsidized housing, failed to pay late fees assessed by the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Duluth (HRA) under his lease. The HRA filed this eviction action for nonpayment of rent. The total amount in arrears was $50. At issue before the district court was whether the monthly $25 late fee provided in the parties’ lease violated section 504B.177. The district court entered judgment for the HRA, concluding that federal law preempts the state limitation on late fees with respect to public housing authorities. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the eight percent limitation on late fees in section 504B.177(a) is not preempted by federal law and does not conflict with a federal statute, regulation, or handbook under section 504B.177(b); and (2) therefore, the HRA was subject to the eight percent limitation. View "Housing & Redevelopment Auth. of Duluth v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The City of Red Wing enacted an ordinance requiring inspections of rental property before landlords could obtain operating licenses and allowing the City to conduct inspections by application for and judicial approval of an administrative warrant in the absence of landlord or tenant consent. Appellants in this case were nine landlords and two tenants who refused to consent to inspections of their properties and successfully challenged three separate applications for administrative warrants. At the same time Appellants opposed the City's application, they filed a separate declaratory judgment action seeking to have the rental inspection ordinance declared unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed the district court's dismissal of the declaratory judgment action for lack of standing, concluding that Appellants had not alleged an injury that was actual or imminent. The Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the challenge to the constitutionality of the rental inspection ordinance presented a justiciable controversy. Remanded. View "McCaughtry v. City of Red Wing" on Justia Law