Justia U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Landlord - Tenant
Tiger Lily, LLC v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
The March 2020 “CARES Act,” 134 Stat. 281, included a 120-day moratorium on eviction filings based on nonpayment of rent for tenants residing in certain federally financed rental properties, which expired in July 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director unilaterally issued the “Halt Order” declaring a new moratorium, halting evictions of certain “covered persons” through December 31, 2020, purportedly based on authority found in Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 264, which provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the power to “make and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases.” Congress subsequently passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which extended that Halt Order from December 31 to January 31, 134 Stat. 1182. Just before that statutory extension lapsed, the CDC Director issued a new directive extending the order through March 31, 2021, again relying on the generic rulemaking power arising from the Public Health Service Act.Landlords sued. The district court held that the Halt Order exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority. The Sixth Circuit declined to stay the order. Congressional acquiescence in the CDC’s assertion that the Halt Order was supported by the Act does not make it so; the plain text of that provision indicates otherwise. View "Tiger Lily, LLC v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development" on Justia Law
K.V.G. Properties, Inc. v. Westfield Insurance Co.
Some of KVG’s commercial tenants got caught growing marijuana in their rental units and caused substantial damage to the premises before the police caught them. KVG speedily evicted the tenants and sought coverage from its insurers for nearly $500,000 in related losses. Westfield denied the claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Westfield, reasoning that the damage was excluded by the policy, which is the Building and Personal Property Coverage Form. Under this Form, Westfield agreed to pay for “direct physical loss of or damage to Covered Property . . . caused by or resulting from any Covered Cause of Loss.” A “Covered Cause of Loss” is any “Risk Of Direct Physical Loss,” with several exclusions, including that Westfield “will not pay for loss or damage caused by or resulting from” any “[d]ishonest or criminal act by you, any of your partners, members, officers, managers, employees (including leased employees), directors, trustees, authorized representatives or anyone to whom you entrust the property for any purpose.” While cultivating marijuana is a crime under federal law, it is protected by Michigan law under certain conditions but no reasonable jury could find that KVG’s tenants complied with Michigan law. View "K.V.G. Properties, Inc. v. Westfield Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Wilmington Trust Co. v. AEP Generating Co.
Nearly 20 years after defendants built, sold, and leased back a Rockport Indiana coal-burning power plant, they committed, in a consent decree resolving lawsuits involving alleged Clean Air Act violations at their other power plants, to either make over a billion dollars of emission control improvements to the plant, or shut it down. The sale and leaseback arrangement was a means of financing construction. Defendants then obtained a modification to the consent decree providing that these improvements need not be made until after their lease expired, pushing their commitments to improve the air quality of the plant’s emissions to the plaintiff, the investors who had financed construction and who would own the plant after the 33-year lease term. The district court held this encumbrance did not violate the parties’ contracts governing the sale and leaseback, and that plaintiff’s breach of contract claims precluded it from maintaining an alternative cause of action for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that a Permitted Lien exception in the lease unambiguously supports the plaintiff’s position and that the defendants’ actions “materially adversely affected’ plaintiff’s interests. View "Wilmington Trust Co. v. AEP Generating Co." on Justia Law
Wall v. Michigan Rental
Between 2012 and 2014, three University of Michigan students (plaintiffs) rented rooms from Alawi, which collected $2550 in security deposits from the three. When they moved out, they received their security deposits back, minus small deductions for minor damages to the properties. Plaintiffs believed that Alawi had not complied with Michigan law, which requires landlords to deposit security deposits in a regulated financial institution and to provide the address of that institution to the tenant. The plaintiffs sued Alawi for $6.6 million on behalf of a putative class of six years’ worth of tenants, alleging violations of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and Michigan law; alleging that Alawi was not entitled to hold security deposits at all (given these alleged breaches of Michigan law), and that knowingly taking security deposits anyway constituted a pattern of federal wire, mail, and bank fraud. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the RICO claim. The complaint failed to articulate any concrete injury; its allegations were too vague to meet the particularity requirement of fraud allegations under Civil Rule 9(b). View "Wall v. Michigan Rental" on Justia Law
Gardner v. Evans
In 2009-2010, eight tenants were evicted from their respective homes for alleged violations of the Lansing Housing and Premises Code. Each eviction followed an inspection of the buildings conducted in conjunction with criminal drug investigations. Each inspector summarized his findings in an eviction “red-tag” notice form, which he gave to the tenant; none of the red-tags provided any information regarding the right to appeal and have an administrative hearing. Each stated: “You must contact the undersigned, no later than ... to set up an appointment to meet at the structure (to verify that all corrections have been completed) or to acquire an authorized extension. Before the re-inspection you must obtain all required permits and have those repairs inspected .... If you have any questions or concerns about complying within the time indicated, you may contact ….” None of the tenants filed an appeal within the 20-day period prescribed by the code. They later filed suit. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of the Inspectors’ qualified immunity defense with respect to the constitutional adequacy of the notice. Sixth Circuit precedent did not clearly establish that a notice of eviction must include a direct explanation of the post-deprivation appeals process. View "Gardner v. Evans" on Justia Law
Velez v. Cuyahoga Metro. Hous. Auth.
The Section 8 low-income housing assistance voucher program, 42 U.S.C. 1437f(o), is administered by public housing agencies such as Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA). Program regulations define “rent to [the] owner” as “[t]he total monthly rent payable to the owner under the lease for the unit. Rent to owner covers payment for any housing services, maintenance and utilities that the owner is required to provide and pay for.” Velez and Hatcher, voucher recipients, entered into one-year leases with K&D. The leases provide: “If Resident(s) shall holdover after the end of the term of this Rental Agreement, said holdover shall be deemed a tenancy of month to month and applicable month to month fees shall apply.” Velez entered into a month-to-month tenancy after her one-year term expired; Hatcher entered into month-to-month tenancies, and, later, a nine-month agreement. K&D charged fees of $35.00 to $100.00 per month. CMHA did not treat these short-term rental fees as rent under the voucher program. Velez and Hatcher were required to pay the fees and filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court granted CMHA summary judgment, holding that the fees were not rent. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Recasting the charge as a short-term fee, rather than rent, does not change that it is consideration paid by the tenant for use of the rental unit. View "Velez v. Cuyahoga Metro. Hous. Auth." on Justia Law
Mik v. Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp
The Miks sued the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), claiming that they were unlawfully evicted from their rental home after their landlord defaulted on her mortgage and the property was sold at a foreclosure sale. The district court dismissed, under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (12 U.S.C. 5220), which imposes certain requirements on successors in interest to foreclosed properties in order to protect tenants, but which does not provide a private right of action. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part, agreeing that the PTFA does not provide a private right of action. The PTFA does, however, preempt less protective state laws, and requires that successors in interest to foreclosed properties provide bona fide tenants with 90 days’ notice to vacate and to allow them to occupy the premises until the end of their lease term unless certain conditions are met. While tenants may not bring a federal cause of action for violations of the PTFA, they may use such violations to establish the elements of a state law cause of action. Under state law, the Miks stated a claim for wrongful eviction but did not state claims for denial of due process and outrageous infliction of emotional distress. View "Mik v. Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp" on Justia Law
Hidden Village, LLC v. City of Lakewood, OH
The Youth Re-Entry Program helps young people re-enter society after foster care or juvenile detention. About 80 percent of its members are black. The program moved to the Cleveland suburb, Lakewood, to house clients in apartments in Hidden Village. Lakewood’s building commissioner (Barrett) took the position that this was a prohibited institutional use. The program nonetheless moved into Hidden Village. Barrett ordered removal, but the planning commission reversed his decision. The police department sent officers a memo stating that “[c]itations and arrests are the preferred course of action for violations ... in the vicinity of [Hidden Village].” Program participants began complaining about harassment, such as tickets and astronomical fines for jaywalking, failure to attach a license plate to a bicycle, and walking on railroad tracks. The mayor stated that he intended to remove the program. Police, an officer in SWAT attire, a canine unit, and fire and health department workers visited Hidden Village, unannounced and without a warrant, to conduct a “joint inspection.” Another fire inspection followed a week later. Hidden Village sued, 42 U.S.C. 1981-1983. The Youth Program did not participate. The district court denied the defendants summary judgment and held that individual defendants did not enjoy qualified immunity. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. Hidden Village produced evidence from which a jury could reasonably conclude that defendants discriminated on the basis of race. View "Hidden Village, LLC v. City of Lakewood, OH" on Justia Law
Miami Valley Fair Hous. Ctr., Inc. v. Connor Grp.
Connor Group owns and manages about 15,000 rental units throughout the U.S., including about 1,900 in the Dayton area. Its rental agent posted an ad on Craigslist: 599/1br – Great Bachelor Pad! (Centerville) … Our one bedroom apartments are a great bachelor pad for any single man looking to hook up. This apartment includes a large bedroom, walk in closet, patio, gourmet kitchen, washer dryer hook up and so much more.... A fair-housing organization sued, charging violation of the Fair Housing Act’s section 3604(c) and Ohio’s Revised Code section 4112.02(H)(7), claiming that the bachelor pad ad was facially discriminatory to families and women. The court provided a jury instruction that “The question is not whether the particular advertisement discourages some potential renters from applying … but whether such discouragement is the product of any discriminatory statement or indication in the advertisement. If an ordinary reader who is a member of a protected class would be discouraged from answering the advertisement because of some discriminatory statement or indication contained therein, then the fair housing laws have been violated.” The trial court ruled in favor of the landlord. The Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded for a new trial based on the erroneous instruction. View "Miami Valley Fair Hous. Ctr., Inc. v. Connor Grp." on Justia Law
Roberts v. Hamer
Plaintiff's claims against her landlord, on behalf of her children, alleged violations of the disclosure requirements contained in the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, 42 U.S.C. 4851-4856. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The statute does not provide the children with a cause of action to sue for the violations.