Landlord-Tenant Law: A Case Analysis
The relationships between a landlord and a tenant do not have to be complicated; however, if at least one of the parties involved displays some degree of negligence, there is a possibility for large problems to emerge. The case in point pictures the scenario, in which the landlord not only deliberately misled the customer by claiming that the roof of the house does not leak but also failed to provide the necessary assistance once the damage to the tenant’s possessions was done due to misinformation.
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The implications of the case, as well as the conclusions to be made, are quite transparent. The landlord should have been honest about the leaky roof and addressed the repair issue as soon as the tenant started complaining. In fact, in the best-case scenario, the problem of the leaky roof should have been managed before the house was rented. The tenant, in his turn, should not have damaged the house. Therefore, both Roger and Larry will be responsible for the damages that they have caused, and both will have to provide reimbursement to each other so that the issue could be resolved.
When considering the current U.S. legislation and the principles that may apply to the case, one must mention that the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, which was adopted in 1972 as the uniform tool for resolving similar issues only provides the foundation for the regulations in different states. Therefore, the measures that may be taken to address the case in point may vary depending on the state in which the problem has occurred. Therefore, the issue in question needs to be reviewed from the perspective of the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. According to the premises that the regulation is based on, the landlord must manage the issue immediately upon being informed:
Seeing that the leakage was not the fault of the tenant and that the latter is the case in point provided the information about the leaking roof to the landlord instantly after the problem was discovered, the landlord should have managed the problem immediately by providing the necessary maintenance services, which he did not.
The law also states, however, that the damage for which the tenant is responsible must be reimbursed correspondingly: “A breach of the warranty of habitability or a covenant within the lease may constitute constructive eviction, allow the tenant to withhold rent, repair the problem and deduct the cost from the rent, or recover damages” (Landlord-Tenant Law, 1972, para. 4). Thus, it will be necessary to demand that Larry should provide compensation for the harm caused.
In other words, he should provide the financial equivalent of what it will take to cover the costs of the repair. Moreover, seeing that the tenant has intentionally caused damage to the property of the owner, Roger has the right to evict Larry, therefore, breaking the contract. Although the harm that the tenant did to the house can be considered as minor, it, nevertheless, shows that Roger deliberately disregarded the principles that the contract was based on and infringed the rights of the owner. The fact that Roger had been deceived by the landlord before the accident occurred does not excuse the damage done to the property. Therefore, the choices made by the tenant call for immediate actions from Larry (State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Superior Court, n. d.).
In retrospect, both parties could and should have mitigated the damages that they have done. Specifically, the landlord should have addressed the roof issue appropriately before offering the house for renting. Alternatively, Larry could have considered telling about the problem honestly and suggesting that the tenant might want to handle the problem independently, whereas Larry would have paid for the maintenance afterward. Either way, the roof problem should have been resolved before the contract was signed with the tenant. Therefore, the failure to provide the tenant with the necessary information implies that Larry is liable for the harm caused and, therefore, must compensate for the losses that Roger has taken.
Similarly, the damages that Larry did to the landlord’s house could have easily been mitigated. By keeping his temper, Roger could have avoided destroying the socket and damaging the wall; consequently, there would have been no need for carrying out the repair work. It could be argued that the damage to the wall and the socket was done in the heat of passion. The fact that Roger was emotional, and, most importantly, that these negative emotions were caused by Larry’s unwillingness to cooperate, can be viewed as the attenuating circumstances. Indeed, the harm was done immediately after the phone conversation, which meant that Roger was under the impact of the outcomes of their communication.
The frustration, disappointment, and anger that he experienced could be viewed as the mitigating circumstances that can be considered the reason for mitigating his punishment and reducing the fine that he will be supposed to pay. Furthermore, the fact that the attitude of the landlord was the primary factor causing the tenant to do the damage begs the question of whether terminating the contract and evicting Roger will be legal. Indeed, the landlord not only failed to prevent the leaking but also refused from addressing it, thus, causing the tenant to suffer significant damages and lose a number of his possessions, most of them being rather expensive. Thus, the outburst of anger that Roger had could be explained rationally.
Nevertheless, the harm cannot be justified by the negative emotional experience that the tenant had during the conversation, and compensation for the broken elements of the interior (i.e., the wall and the socket) must be provided by the Landlord-Tenant Law since the tenant is expected to “not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so” (Hall, 2016, para. 12).
To handle the case, Roger should pay the tenant for the full damage to his possessions that the rain caused. Larry, in his turn, will have to pay for the repairs that will have to be carried out to remove the damage to the wall and reinstall the electrical socket. Based on the current U.S. legislation, both parties are equally responsible for the problems that they have caused, and they will have to handle the issues in a manner as expeditious as possible. Even though the tenant was misinformed about the leaking roof, he had no right to break the wall and the socket, which means that he must pay for the damage as well.
Hall, L. (2016). The truth about the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) of 1972. Web.
Landlord-Tenant Law. (1972). Web.
State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Superior Court. (n. d.). Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Connecticut. Web.