Landlord and Tenant Law
In this lecture, we will continue our discussion of property law with an analysis of landlord and tenant law.
We begin with a discussion of the types of tenancies. A fixed-term tenancy or tenancy for years lasts for a specific period of time (e.g., a year, a month, a week). This length of time is set by express contract and ends automatically without notice. A periodic tenancy (also created by a lease) does not have a specific end date though rent is due at regular intervals. These tenancies last until terminated and notice is required to end the lease. Tenancy at will is similar, but does not require notice to terminate the leasehold interest. Finally, tenancy at sufferance is possession of land without a right. These are created when a tenant remains in possession of land without consent after the termination of another tenancy.
Ordinarily, these tenancies are created by the lease. Leases may be written or oral though leases that last longer than a year must be in writing to be valid under the Statute of Frauds. These leases are essentially contracts, and normal contract principles will apply. Therefore, landlords must be careful to avoid unconscionability issues where a judge may declare the lease to be invalid when one party as a result of disproportionate bargaining power is forced to accept a deal that unfairly benefits one party. In addition, federal law prohibits property owners from discriminating against potential and actual tenant based on race, religion, national origin or sex.
Importantly, the landlord/tenant relationship creates various rights and duties between landlords and tenants.
Firstly, the landlord is required to give the tenant possession of the land for the lease term. The tenant has the right to retain possession until the lease expires. As in with warranty deeds, the covenant of quiet enjoyment is of critical importance. Additionally, this duty on behalf of the landlord can be breached when the landlord evicts the tenant without cause (an eviction occurs when a landlord deprives a tenant of possession before the end of the stated term). Eviction need not be physical. A constructive eviction is said to occur when the landlord wrongfully performs or fails to perform any of the undertakings the lease requires, thereby making the tenant’s further use of and enjoyment of the property difficult or impossible. For example if the landlord is responsible for repairs, it may be a constructive eviction to fail to repair the heating system in the dead of winter.
The next rights and duties to discuss concern the use and maintenance of the leased property. The tenant may use the property in a reasonable manner that reasonably relates to the ordinary use of the property. However, the tenant is responsible for damages, excluding ordinary wear and tear. The landlord must comply with local building codes. This also plays into the implied warranty of habitability. This warranty requires the landlord to furnish premises in a habitable condition at the beginning of the term and maintain them in that condition for the duration. This warranty requires (among other things) the landlord to address substantial, physical defects that the landlord knows or should know about and has had a reasonable time to repair.
Finally, the tenant owes the landlord rent. Rent must be paid even if the tenant does not occupy the property or if the tenant moves out. A notable exception to this is if the move is justifiable. For example, the responsibility will end if the building burns down. Additionally, rent may be withheld if the landlord violates the warranty of habitability or a constructive eviction has occurred.
Business Law I
In this lecture, we will discuss the law related to wills and trusts. Upon an individual’s death, his or her property will be disposed according to law of the state of their residence. However, all states allow for the decedent to direct the disposition of their property though a will. If they do not have a will, the laws of intestate succession will control the disposition.
Some definitions are needed to discuss the law surrounding wills. A testator makes out a will. Probate court will deal with legal problems surrounding the affairs of the deceased. The executor is a personal representative meant to settle the affairs of the deceased and make sure the will is followed.
A will must meet certain requirements to be valid. An invalid will has no effect and the deceased’s property will be disposed of through the law of intestate succession:
· Capacity—the testator must be over 18 and of sound mind when the will is maid;
· Writing—the will must be in writing;
· Signed—the will must be signed by the testator;
· Witnesses—there must be between two to three witnesses (depending on the state). Many states do not allow parties that stand to gain under the will from witnessing it; and
· Publication—many states require the testator to state that the will is his or her “last will or testament.”
Even where these requirements are met, the court will not enforce a will found to be a product of undue influence. Undue influence exists if the distribution is the result of improper pressure by another. It is more likely to exist when natural heirs are ignored.
Wills may also be revoked in several ways. The will may be revoked by a physical act, for example burning, tearing, canceling or obliterating the will, with an intent to revoke. It may be revoked by a subsequent writing as in the case where the testator creates a new will that states all previous wills are revoked. And, in some cases, wills are revoked automatically. For example, the law in many states will operate to revoke a will drafted before a divorce that leaves all property to an ex-wife.
If there is no will (or a will has been declared invalid), the laws of intestacy of the state of residence will determine the distribution of the estate. These laws lay out rule and priorities under which heirs inherit property. These laws vary (sometimes greatly) from state to state. Generally, children and spouses have priority. If those are not present, then grandchildren, brothers and sisters and parents are next.
Finally, this lecture will end with a discussion of trusts. A trust is any arrangement by which legal title to property is transferred from one person to be administered by a trustee for another person’s benefit. The elements of valid trust are: 1) a designated beneficiary; 2) a designated trustee; 3) a fund identified to enable title to pass to the trustee; and 4) a delivery by the settlor or grantor to the trustee with the intent of passing title.
Express trusts are created at the express intent of a grantor or settlor (the person that creates the trust). Trusts may be living or testamentary. A living trust is one created by the grantor during their lifetime. These trusts may be revocable (in these trusts the grantor retains control over the property). In an irrevocable living trust, the grantor does not have control over the trust corpus (and does not have to pay taxes on it). A testamentary trust is one created by will upon the settlor’s death. These trusts may be used to provide for individuals that the may need someone else to manage their inheritance e.g., children.
Please refer to video attached.
Business Law I
This week's material discusses some of the rights and duties of landlords and tenants.
· Do you think the law does enough to protect tenants from landlords?
· What laws are there protecting tenants in your state?
Please respond to the initial question by day 5 and be sure to post two additional times to peers and/or instructor by day 7. The initial post by day 5 should be 75 to 150 words, but may go longer depending on the topic. If you use any source outside of your own thoughts, you should reference that source. Include solid grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and spelling
Business Law I
Steve is renting a property from Billy. One evening Steve tripped and fell down the stairs. The issue is that one of the stairs in the common area was faulty. Billy knew about the stair, but he had never got around to fixing it.
Steve injured his leg, so he decided to return to his room. The heater was not working (and it was in the middle of winter). Steve had told Billy about the faulty heater for months, but Billy never got around to fixing it. There is a local ordinance that requires landlords to repair heaters. Additionally, assume that this jurisdiction includes the implied warranty of habitability. The jurisdiction recognizes constructive eviction, and it follows the majority rule of when landlords are liable for injuries.
· What causes of action does Steve have?
· What remedies does he have for the faulty heater?
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