Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant

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Within months of her arrival at St. Andrew, a residential community for older adults, Wetzel physical and verbal abuse from other residents because she is openly lesbian. She repeatedly asked St. Andrew’s staff to help her. The staff limited her use of facilities and built a case for her eviction. Wetzel sued St. Andrew, alleging that it failed to provide her with non‐discriminatory housing and that it retaliated against her because of her complaints, citing the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601–3619. The district court dismissed Wetzel’s suit. The Seventh Circuit reversed, reading the FHA “more broadly.” Not only does the FHA create liability when a landlord intentionally discriminates against a tenant based on a protected characteristic; it also creates liability against a landlord that has actual notice of tenant‐on‐tenant harassment based on a protected status, yet chooses not to take any reasonable steps within its control to stop that harassment. View "Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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Thorncreek, a Park Forest townhouse complex, applied to the Village for a permit to use a vacant townhouse as a business office but began to conduct its business from the townhouse without a permit. The Village cited it for zoning violations and operating without the required permit. The Village later filed suit to halt the zoning and operating violations and to redress certain building-code violations. Thorncreek counterclaimed against the Village and 10 officials, claiming civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. Two Thorncreek "areas" went into foreclosure. Thorncreek blamed the Village’s regulatory overreach in denying a business license, interfering with business operations, refusing to grant a conditional use permit, failing to issue a certificate of occupancy, and unequally enforcing a building-code provision requiring electrical upgrades, based on irrational animus against Clapper, the owner, and racial bias against its black residents. A jury found the Village and Village Manager Mick liable for a class-of-one equal-protection violation; found Mick and Kerestes, the director of community development, liable for conspiracy (section 1985(3)); otherwise rejected the claims, and awarded $2,014,000 in compensatory damages. Because the jury rejected the race-based equal-protection claim, the judge struck the verdict against Kerestes. The judge awarded $430,999.25 in fees and $44,844.33 in costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the judgment against Mick, the admission of evidence concerning Clapper’s wealth, and the admission of Thorncreek’s financial records. View "Thorncreek Apartments I, LLC v. Village of Park Forest" on Justia Law

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Meadows worked for the Rockford Housing Authority (RHA), and leased, for $10 per month, an RHA apartment in a high-rise occupied by elderly and disabled tenants. RHA tenants complained that someone else was living in Meadows’s apartment. RHA’s manager saw an unidentified man leave the apartment and lock the door with a key and reported to RHA’s director, who contacted Metro, a private security company under contract with the RHA. Metro employee Novay, knocked on the door and spoke with a Sockwell, who stated that he was renting the apartment. Novay took Sockwell’s key and escorted him from the building. Meadows returned to the apartment, and, without notifying RHA or Metro, installed a new lock. That evening, RHA's director suggested changing the apartment's locks to protect the other tenants. The next morning, Meadows went to the police station to report that his apartment “had been ransacked.” Novay arrived to supervise the locksmith and found that Sockwell’s key no longer worked. The locksmith picked the locks. Meadows arrived, became enraged, tried to physically remove Novay, and called the police. Meadows was given a new key and allowed to remain in the apartment that day. Meadows sued Metro’s employees under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants; the employees of a private security company, who carried out the RHA’s order, are entitled to qualified immunity. View "Meadows v. Rockford Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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The property owners, participants in the “Section 8” federal rental assistance program (42 U.S.C. 1437f(a)), sued the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for allegedly breaching the contracts that governed payments to the owners under the program, by failing to approve automatic rent increases for certain years, by requiring the owners to submit comparability studies in order to receive increases, and by arbitrarily reducing the increases for non-turnover units by one percent. Because Wisconsin Housing receives all of its Section 8 funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Authority filed a third-party breach of contract claim against HUD. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Wisconsin Housing and dismissed the claims against HUD as moot. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the owners’ Section 8 contracts were renewed after the challenged requirements became part of the program. “The doctrine of disproportionate forfeiture simply does not apply,” and Wisconsin Housing did not breach any contracts by requiring rent comparability studies in certain circumstances or by applying a one percent reduction for non-turnover units. View "Evergreen Square of Cudahy v. Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority" on Justia Law

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In 2006, the Zoretics rented a Castilian Court condominium. Their landlord stopped paying condominium assessments and lost possession to Castilian in 2008. Castilian obtained an eviction order. The Cook County Sheriff evicted the family in January 2009. Later that day, Castilian’s agent allowed them to reenter the unit, agreeing they would sign a new lease. Zoretic never signed the lease or paid rent. After receiving no response to two letters, Castilian’s lawyers obtained a new date stamp (April 2009) from the Clerk on the September 2008 order and placed the order with the Sheriff. On June 5, deputies knocked, announced their presence, got no answer, opened the door, and entered the unit with guns drawn. They found Zoretic, put down their weapons, conducted a protective sweep, and escorted Zoretic out of the unit. Days later, Zoretic sued and was awarded possession until Castilian obtained a lawful eviction order. The family returned, continued not paying rent, and were evicted in March 2012. Zoretic sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed as to Fourth Amendment claims against the deputies, but affirmed as to claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the owners. Zoretic failed to create a material factual dispute about whether the owners were extreme and outrageous in pursuing eviction. View "Zoretic v. Darge" on Justia Law

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In 2011 Bankers leased Chicago office space from CBRE. Another tenant, Groupon, needed more office space. CBRE asked Bankers to sublease to Groupon and relocate. Bankers and CBRE signed a Listing Agreement, including terms required by 225 ILCS 454/15-5(a), 15-75. Bankers told CBRE that it wanted to net $7 million from its deals with Groupon and the lessor of the replacement space. CBRE presented Bankers with cost-benefit analyses (CBAs), comparing the costs of leasing new space with the benefits of subleasing the old space to Groupon. A May 2011 CBA showed a net savings of $6.9 million to Bankers from relocating to East Wacker Drive. Bankers responded by subleasing to Groupon and leasing that space. CBRE’s calculation was inaccurate. It omitted Bankers’ promise to give Groupon a $3.1 million tenant improvement allowance. Had Bankers known it would profit by only $3.8 million, it would have rejected the deal; CBRE would not have obtained $4.5 million in commissions. In an arbitration proceeding, the panel issued three “final decisions,” all favoring CBRE, and awarded costs. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The panel exceeded its authority. It was authorized to interpret the contract (Listing Agreement), which did not include the CBAs or a disclaimer contained in the CBAs. View "Bankers Life & Cas/ Ins. Co. v. CBRE, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Blanchards agreed to sell Marathon County property to the Hoffmans, who paid $30,000 up front. The land contract balance was due in 2015, with an option to close early by paying off the Blanchards’ new $142,000 mortgage, obtained as part of the agreement. The parties signed a separate “rental agreement,” under which the Hoffmans paid $500 per month. The land contract was not recorded. The lender obtained an Assignment of Leases and Rents as collateral, but did not obtain an Assignment of Land Contract. The bank recorded its mortgage and the Assignment. In 2014, the Blanchards filed a bankruptcy petition. The trustee filed an adversary proceeding against the lender under 11 U.S.C. 544(a)(3), which grants him the position of a bona fide purchaser of property as of the date of the bankruptcy, to step ahead of the mortgage and use the Blanchards’ interest in the land contract for the benefit of unsecured creditors. The trustee argued that a mortgage can attach a lien only to real property and that the Blanchards' interest under the land contract was personal property. The district court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the bank. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A mortgage can attach a lien to a vendor’s interest in a land contract under Wisconsin law; this lender perfected its lien by recording in county land records rather than under UCC Article 9. View "Liebzeit v. Intercity State Bank, FSB" on Justia Law

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Great Lakes, which automotive service stores throughout the Midwest, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The unsecured creditors’ committee filed an adversary action against T.D., which had leased two oil-change stores to Great Lakes. Great Lakes had negotiated the termination of the leases 52 days before it declared bankruptcy, and the creditors’ committee contends that the termination was either a preferential (11U.S.C. 547(b)) or a fraudulent (11 U.S.C. 548(A)(1)) transfer of the leases to T.D. The bankruptcy judge rejected that claim. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded for determination of the value of Great Lakes’ transfer to T.D. and whether T.D. has any defenses to the creditors’ claims. View "In re: Great Lakes Quick Lube, LP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, residents of privately-owned Chicago building, received housing vouchers from the Chicago Housing Authority to enable them to rent apartments. They claimed that the Authority is complicit in and responsible for a deprivation of their constitutionally protected privacy by the building owners. The owners require their tenants to be tested annually for illegal drugs; passing the test is a condition of a tenant’s being allowed to renew his or her lease for another year. The requirement applies to all tenants, not just those who might be suspected of using illegal drugs. The district court denied a preliminary injunction on the ground that the drug-testing policy was private rather than state action. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. None of the plaintiffs had requested transfer from the drug-testing building in which he or she currently resides to a building that does not require drug testing. A CHA representative testified that his agency would have approved such a request. That the CHA may encourage or even request testing does not constitute state action. View "Stubenfield v. Chicago Hous. Auth." on Justia Law

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The owners of multifamily housing rental projects in Wisconsin that are assisted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program under Section 8 of the Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 1437f sued the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), alleging WHEDA breached certain Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contracts by failing to approve annual rent increases,as required by federal law, and by requiring the owners to submit rent comparability studies as a prerequisite to receiving rent increases. WHEDA filed a Third-Party Complaint against HUD, alleging that, if WHEDA is found to have breached the HAP contracts, then those breaches resulted from WHEDA following congressional and HUD directives. The district court dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit reversed, noting that the district court’s order was entered without the benefit of the parties’ full briefing on jurisdiction. While state law may create the breach-of-contract causes of action, the only disputed issues involve the proper interpretation of Section 8 and HUD’s implementing guidance. The issues are “capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress.” View "Wis. Hous. & Econ. Dev. Auth. v. Castro" on Justia Law