Landlord-Tenant Law

21 Aug No Comments

Business Law I: LEG 100

A landlord, or bailor, or lessor engaged in a lease for the rental of owned property is entitled to certain rights. These rights include the right to have your owned property returned to you in acceptable condition, on the agreed upon date, and to recover any losses for unreasonable damages not caused by normal wear and tear. In kind, the landlord/bailer of the property being leased is bound by obligatory duties to the tenant/bailee. These duties required by the landlord/bailor are either expressly stated, or implied, by law to be upheld. Of these required duties, the following are significant and apply to the case at hand:

The statute for quiet enjoyment means that the tenant/bailee has the right to enjoy the leased premises peacefully and for the defined use of the property. In this case, the property is leased for living quarters. A leak has damaged the premises, and the personal property of the tenant/bailee, causing an environment that cannot be quietly enjoyed. Additionally, the landlord/bailor has a duty to maintain habitable conditions of the premises being leased. The leak in the home can, and will, eventually create inhabitable living conditions and could promote the growth of potentially health hazardous mold.

  • Landlord’s Liability
    • Quiet enjoyment allowed to the tenant
    • Duty to maintain habitable conditions
    • Duty to mitigate losses/damages
  • Bailor’s Liability for Defects

Further, as a landlord/bailor, there is liability for defects to the property, whether they are known or unknown at the time the property is leased to the tenant/bailee. Therefore, the landlord/bailor is liable for the defect causing the leak at the premises. Also, a duty to mitigate monetary losses and/or physical damages is present. If a tenant/bailee vacates the premises, the landlord/bailee has a duty to find another tenant and keep monetary losses to a minimum. In the same vein, if the landlord/bailor is alerted to physical damage, appropriate actions should be taken within a reasonable amount of time to remedy the condition.

Likewise, a tenant, or bailee, is entitled to certain rights and obligated to certain duties. Tenant/bailee has the right to quiet enjoyment and use of the leased premises as defined by the type of property and agreement with the landlord/bailor. Tenant/bailee has a duty to pay rent as compensation for the use of the premises. The tenant/bailee also has the duty to mitigate losses, or damages to the premises. This should mean that the tenant/bailee alert the landlord/tenant as soon as reasonably possible to any conditions that are causing, or may cause, damage to the premises.

Additionally, the tenant/bailee has the duty to use the premises for normal living purposes and can be held liable for any damages deemed significant and beyond the scope of normal wear and tear. For example, damage the sheetrock and electrical systems within a wall caused by the tenant/bailee purposefully swinging a bat would be considered significant and beyond the scope of normal wear and tear. In other words, the damage was created intentionally by the tenant/bailee, making him/her liable.

Both the landlord/bailor and the tenant/bailee have a legally stated, or implied, duty to mitigate loss and/or damages. In this case, the tenant/bailee has met his duty to the landlord/bailor by alerting him to the leak causing the damages to the premises. Upon knowledge of the leak, it is then the legally stated, or implied, duty of the landlord/bailor to take appropriate action to remedy the damaging condition as quickly as possible to lessen the amount of damages incurred. However, the landlord/bailor was negligent and did not take action to remedy the situation; thereby, causing more damage to the premises and to the personal property of the tenant/bailee.

Based on the laws in the state of Arkansas, the landlord/bailor has the right to terminate the lease agreement for any reason if he/she has provided the tenant/bailee with proper notice of one rental period. However, the landlord/bailor does not have the right to deny access to, nor create conditions that would effectively result in eviction, or the loss of use of the premises or personal property. It seems, in this case, that the conditions of the home have become increasingly worse, damaged the living quarters and personal property of the tenant/bailee, have gone on for longer than a month, and could be viewed as the landlord/bailor creating a situation of Constructive Eviction. Constructive eviction is a violation of the tenant’s/bailee’s rights.

The tenant/bailee has a duty to the landlord/bailor to use the property in question properly and to not cause any undue damages not directly caused by normal wear and tear. Additionally, there is no recourse for paying rent even in the face of the circumstances of this case. Therefore, the tenant/bailee has a continued duty to pay rent. In this case, the tenant/bailee used a baseball bat to inflict damage to the premises and can be held liable for those damages. The tenant/bailee made the landlord/bailor aware of damage to the premises that caused a leak that would cause further damages if left unrepaired. Any damages to personal property before the landlord/bailor was made aware of the leak should be the responsibility of the tenant/bailee.

The landlord/bailor was unresponsive to the situation and failed to repair the damage in a timely manner and the tenant/bailee was away from the residence at the time of the second occurrence when his/her personal property was damaged. Upon return mitigated his own damages. Additionally, considering that the landlord/bailor knew of the leak and damages from communications from the tenant/bailee, promised to fix the defect causing the leak, and continued to ignore his liability for damages to the premises, the landlord is responsible for 100% of the damages caused to personal property and the premises from the unrepaired leak. Further, any damages awarded to the tenant/bailee for personal property shall be less that of the damages caused by the actions of the tenant/bailee to the premises.

It is factual that the landlord/bailor has breached his/her duty to maintain the premises and/or mitigate any damages. The landlord/bailor has breached his/her duty to promote quiet enjoyment of the premises through lack of maintenance. The landlord/bailor has created a situation that can be considered constructive eviction through lack of maintenance. The landlord/bailor has not given one rental period notice of eviction to the tenant/bailee to vacate the premises.

It is also factual that the tenant/bailee breached his/her duty to use the premises properly by intentionally damaging the interior structure. The tenant/bailee tried to mitigate the damages caused by the leak by informing the landlord/bailor during the next available opportunity. The tenant/bailee was denied the right to quiet enjoyment and has incurred damages to personal property. The tenant/bailee is also subject to constructive eviction due to the conditions of the premises via a failure of the landlord/bailor to keep the property in good repair.

In conclusion of mediation of these circumstances, the landlord/bailor has the right to evict the tenant/bailee with notice of one rental period. However, the landlord/bailor is responsible for all damages to the premises and the tenant’s/bailee’s personal property damaged by the unrepaired leak. Additionally, the tenant/bailee is responsible for any owed rent and intentional damage to the premises caused directly by the actions of the tenant/bailee that are outside the scope of normal wear and tear. The tenant/bailee is also due the deposit paid for the rental of the premises less any normal fees for cleaning and repair of normal wear and tear.

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