Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant

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Appellant appealed from the superior court’s post-judgment order awarding her attorney fees in the amount of $8,000 after a jury found Appellee liable for illegal eviction and wrongful use of civil proceedings. Appellant had requested nearly $60,000 in attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not apply an improper standard in evaluating Appellant’s request for attorney fees and that the court’s ultimate fee award was not an abuse of discretion. The court reviewed the award of attorney fees pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 6014(2)(B) for an abuse of discretion and according the trial court substantial deference. View "Sands v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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In anticipation of renting an apartment from Sheldon Ashby, Jennifer Roussel gave Ashby a security deposit. Roussel never moved into the apartment and sought the return of her security deposit. When Ashby did not respond to Roussel’s demand for a refund, Roussel filed a complaint against Ashby. The superior court entered default against Ashby and entered judgment for Roussel in the amount of $24,628. Roussel appealed, and Ashby cross-appealed the denial of his motion to set aside the default. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in (1) declining to aware punitive damages to Roussel; (2) denying Roussel’s motion to amend the judgment by awarding additional attorney fees; and (3) denying Ashby’s motion to set aside the default. View "Roussel v. Ashby" on Justia Law

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From 2002 to 2012, Defendant leased from Plaintiff business premises located in Portland. In 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that Defendant had breached certain provisions in the written lease. Defendant counterclaimed, alleging that Plaintiff had failed to perform certain repairs required by the lease. The parties went to mediation on their dispute and reached a settlement agreement through that mediation. Defendant later moved to amend its original counterclaim to add a second count for breach of the settlement agreement. The superior court concluded that the counterclaim seeking to enforce the settlement was moot because Plaintiff signed an agreement reflecting all of the terms of the settlement reached through mediation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff executed a general release that complied with the agreement reached through mediation, the superior court correctly determined that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on its counterclaim seeking to enforce the settlement agreement was moot. View "2301 Congress Realty, LLC v. Wise Bus. Forms, Inc." on Justia Law

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Edwina Jones rented a residence that she vacated in 2010. Because Jones did not replace heating oil in the residence’s oil tank at the end of her tenancy under the terms of the lease, Cost Management, Inc., the landlord, told Jones that it would return to Jones the $1,500 deposit minus $448, the cost of filling the oil tank. Jones filed a complaint against Cost Management asserting that she was entitled to $1,500, plus statutory double damages, attorney fees, interest and costs. Cost Management counterclaimed for the $448 it paid to fill the tank. The district court found in Jones’s favor on her complaint, found in favor of Cost Management on its counterclaim, and denied Jones’s claims for costs, double damages, and attorney fees under the wrongful-retention statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly found that Jones was entitled to receive $1,052 from Cost Management; and (2) because Cost Management overcame the presumption that it wrongfully withheld Jones’s security deposit, the district court did not err by not awarding court costs, double damages, and attorney fees.View "Jones v. Cost Mgmt., Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2004, Paula Bratton and Daniel Hills and their children (“the Brattons”), moved into a house that they rented from Halsey McDonough. In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services notified McDonough that he was required to relocate the Brattons because of numerous lead hazards throughout the rental property. The Brattons subsequently filed twelve-count complaint against McDonough. The trial court granted McDonough’s motion for judgment as a matter of law as to some of the Brattons’ claims and in favor of McDonough based on a jury verdict on the remaining claims. The Supreme Court vacated the jury’s verdict and remanded the case for a new trial, holding (1) the trial court clearly erred in excluding the Brattons’ qualified expert witness; (2) the trial court erred in entering judgment as a matter of law for McDonough on the negligence claims of the two older children, as well as the intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages claims of all three children; (3) the trial court improperly shifted the burden of proof onto the Brattons to disprove McDonough’s independent causation theories and erred in refusing to give the jury a proper and requested instruction; and (4) the trial court’s errors created a fundamentally unfair trial. View "Bratton v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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Defendant leased a single-family dwelling to Tenants pursuant to a lease agreement in which Tenants were permitted to keep pets but would be responsible for any property damage or disturbance caused by their pets. Three times in one month, a dog owned by Tenants allegedly attacked Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued Defendants seeking damages on a common law theory of negligence. The superior court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because there were no triable issues as to whether Defendants were ever in possession of control over Tenants' dog, the superior court did not err in its judgment. View "Fields v. Hayden" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint for protection from harassment against his former landlord (Defendant). Defendant moved for the entry of judgment as a matter of law after Plaintiff had presented his case. The court granted the motion, concluding that, even accepting all of Plaintiff's testimony as true, Plaintiff failed to demonstrate abuse or harassment within the meaning of the relevant statute. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court should not have reached its decision without affording Plaintiff the opportunity to play certain audio recordings and that the court should not have entered judgment as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court did not err in proceeding based on the evidence that was presented at trial after it was clear the recordings were unavailable at the time of trial; and (2) because the evidence presented at trial failed to establish harassment, the lower court did not err in entering judgment as a matter of law. View "Chapman v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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After Tenants failed to pay rent for the last four months of living in a home owned by Landlord, Landlord commenced a forcible entry and detainer action against Tenants. Landlord did not respond to Tenants' request for a return of their security deposit. Tenants subsequently commenced a small claims action against Landlord seeking to recover double damages for their security deposit. Landlord, in turn, filed a small claims action against Tenants seeking damages for unpaid rent and late fees. The district court awarded Landlord four months of unpaid rent and late fees and awarded Tenants the amount of their security deposit. The superior court affirmed. Tenants appealed, contending, inter alia, that Landlord's competing small claims action should not have been permitted to proceed until she returned their security deposit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because neither the security deposit statute nor the lease prohibited Landlord from bringing a separate claim for breach of other terms of the rental agreement, the district court did not err in considering Landlord's small claims action simultaneously with Tenants' claim; and (2) the district court did not err in refusing to impose double damages, attorney fees, and costs. View "Lyle v. Mangar" on Justia Law

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The Belangers rented a trailer from John Mulholland. The Belangers informed Mulholland about problems with their running water and toilet, but no repairs were made. When the Belangers were eventually evicted from their trailer, they had lived there without running water for nine months and without a functioning toilet for five months. The Belangers sued Mulholland for breach of the implied warranty of habitability. The trial court ruled in favor of the Belangers and awarded the Belangers five months' rent. The Belangers appealed, contending that they were entitled to damages for an additional four-month period when they lacked running water but still had a functioning toilet. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment as modified, holding that the Belangers were entitled to damages for an additional four months because, by itself, the lack of running water in the Belangers' trailer for four months rendered the trailer unfit for human habitation. View "Belanger v. Mulholland" on Justia Law

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In district court, appellants were held liable for violating the Town of Levantâs Article 1010 land use ordinance by allowing a third partyâs mobile home to be moved onto and remain on their land after receiving multiple notices of the violation. At issue was whether appellants could be held responsible for a violation caused by a third party and whether there was evidence that they played a role in leaving the mobile home on their property. The Court affirmed, holding that (1) under the four-factor analysis outlined in Town of Boothbay v. Jenness, the landowners were responsible for land use violations committed on their property, and (2) there was sufficient evidence that the appellants had notice of the violation and the ability and opportunity to correct the violation but failed to do so.