Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant

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This case provided the Supreme Court an opportunity to provide guidance on what happens if one of multiple losing parties wishes to appeal from a general district court (GDC) judgment involving consolidated claims by several parties. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s award of sanctions against Landlord and award of damages in favor of Tenants in this dispute over holdover rent and property damages. Landlord filed a warrant in debt against Tenants. Tenants filed a counterclaim. The GDC ruled against both parties and dismissed all claims. Landlord appealed to the circuit court but later withdrew its appeal. The circuit court awarded sanctions against Landlord and awarded damages in favor of Tenants on their unappealed counterclaim without hearing evidence on the matter. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court abused its discretion by applying a rationale for a sanctions award that finds no support in either the text of Va. Code 8.01-271.1 or this court’s opinions applying it; and (2) the circuit court erred in adjudicating Tenants’ counterclaim. View "Robert & Bertha Robinson Family, LLC v. Allen" on Justia Law

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This case provided the Supreme Court an opportunity to provide guidance on what happens if one of multiple losing parties wishes to appeal from a general district court (GDC) judgment involving consolidated claims by several parties. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s award of sanctions against Landlord and award of damages in favor of Tenants in this dispute over holdover rent and property damages. Landlord filed a warrant in debt against Tenants. Tenants filed a counterclaim. The GDC ruled against both parties and dismissed all claims. Landlord appealed to the circuit court but later withdrew its appeal. The circuit court awarded sanctions against Landlord and awarded damages in favor of Tenants on their unappealed counterclaim without hearing evidence on the matter. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court abused its discretion by applying a rationale for a sanctions award that finds no support in either the text of Va. Code 8.01-271.1 or this court’s opinions applying it; and (2) the circuit court erred in adjudicating Tenants’ counterclaim. View "Robert & Bertha Robinson Family, LLC v. Allen" on Justia Law

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The carbon monoxide detector in an apartment sounded. A maintenance worker replaced the batteries; the alarm later sounded again. The following morning, tenants called Virginia Natural Gas (VNG). VNG’s inspector measured the apartment’s CO levels as hazardous, turned off the gas, and “red-tagged” the furnace. A maintenance worker later declared that he had checked the furnace and vent pipes for leaks, found an attic vent pipe loose, reattached it, and rechecked the CO level, Although not licensed to make heating system repairs, he used screws to secure the sections, contrary to specifications. A code enforcement officer determined that CO levels were within the acceptable range, without visiting the attic or inspecting the equipment. Weeks later, the alarm sounded again. A VNG inspector red-tagged the furnace. With a new furnace installed, the CO levels remained high. The adjoining apartment's furnace was venting into the attic. When the flue was repaired, CO levels dropped. The tenants suffered injuries. In their suit, the court ruled that the tenants failed to establish the requisite level of negligence for punitive damages. They were permitted, over the landlord’s objection, to increase their prayers for compensatory damages. The jury awarded three tenants $200,000 each and a fourth $3,500,000. The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed in part and remanded for a new trial. The court erred in admitting the testimony of an environmental medicine specialist, which had not been disclosed under Rule 4:1(b)(4)(A)(i); erred in admitting testimony regarding alleged defects in the installation of the new furnace--such defects were after-the-fact and not relevant; in permitting amendment of the prayers for relief; in granting a spoliation instruction with regard to tenants’ inability to inspect the furnace. View "Emerald Point, LLC v. Hawkins" on Justia Law

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Rosa Steward leased a home from Holland Family Properties. Rosa's son Dontral suffered lead poisoning as a result of his exposure to high levels of lead paint, which caused severe physical and mental impairments. Dontral, through his mother (Steward), filed a complaint against Holland and Jean Cross, the owner of property Dontral often visited. Both properties contained lead-based paint. Steward claimed that Defendants were liable for his injuries based on theories of negligence per se and common law negligence. The circuit court dismissed both counts on demurrer. At issue on appeal was whether Defendants, landlords subject to the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA), had a duty in tort to the tenants of leased properties to comply with building and housing codes concerning public health and safety. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a tort duty was not imposed on these landlords by the common law, the leases executed in this case, or the VRLTA. View "Steward v. Holland Family Props., LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff in this case was a Section Eight tenant in a property owned by Defendants. For reasons beyond her control, Plaintiff prematurely terminated her lease. Defendants retained Plaintiff's security deposit, and Plaintiff filed a warrant in debt seeking the return of her security deposit. The district court ruled in favor of Defendant. The circuit court affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in ruling that her security deposit could be retained by Defendants to satisfy the alleged rent obligation of the housing authority. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to preserve this argument for appeal, the argument was waived. View "Brandon v. Cox" on Justia Law

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Summit Group Properties, LLC (Summit) sued Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Associates (OSPTA) and its partners for breach of lease and damages. OSPTA filed a counterclaim in which it alleged fraud in the inducement and damages. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Summit against OSPTA in the amount of $187,000. The jury found for Summit on OSPTA's counterclaim. OSPTA appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in granting a jury instruction offered by Summit because it misstated the law by instructing the jury that a limited liability company could not be liable for any fraudulent activity unless the fraud was approved by the members of the LLC. The Supreme Court agreed with OSPTA that the instruction was misleading because it was not a complete statement of the law and held that the trial court erred in giving the instruction. Remanded. View "Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Assocs. v. Summit Group Props., LLC" on Justia Law