Larry Landlord has recently renovated an apartment and has put it on the market to be rented for $800.00 a month. Larry Landlord has been in business for approximately five (5) years and has had both positive and negative experiences with tenants. Larry Landlord is hoping to find a good, long-term tenant for his apartment. Roger Renter saw Larry’s sign for the apartment for rent and thought the location and the apartment would be perfect. Roger met Larry to look at the apartment and Roger fell in love with it. All of the interior fixtures had been replaced and the unit had a nice large closet. Roger noticed that although newly painted, the exterior of the apartment did show a little bit of wear. Because of the condition of the exterior of the building, Roger asked Larry about any roof leaks. Larry stated that he had never had a leak and was not aware of any leaks.
Roger and Larry entered into a valid contract for the rental of the apartment. (Note: The issue of whether or not a contract exists is NOT part of this question. For purposes of this question assume the contract is valid and there are no issues with the contract.)
Roger Renter was very happy in his new location; the apartment was quiet and the neighbors were friendly. Larry Landlord was also very happy because Roger Renter was a model tenant. Roger Renter paid on time and was quiet and respectful to other tenants.
The part of the country where Roger rented was rainy in the summertime. Roger rented and moved into the apartment in October. In June, a tremendous rainstorm occurred and Roger’s roof began to leak. The leak was minor at first and Roger merely put a trash can under the leak and had no other issues that month. When handing over his monthly rent check, Roger told Larry about the small leak. Larry thanked Roger for letting him know about the leak and told Roger he would have it fixed.
The next month the rains came again and the leak grew larger in Roger’s apartment. Roger was not home at the time of the rain and therefore the leak damaged some of Roger’s furniture. Roger called Larry to let him know that there was a leak and asked when it might be fixed. Roger also stated that he thought Larry had fixed the roof. Larry curtly stated, “When it rains, sometimes it pours. When it pours, sometimes it leaks.” Roger did not like Larry’s tone or response and called back to ask when the roof might be fixed. Larry stated, “When I get to it.” The following day, Roger sent Larry a note about the roof leak and asked Larry to please address the issue.
The week before the rent was due, another rainstorm occurred and the leak was even larger. This time the leak damaged Roger’s clothing, furniture, and some precious items he had inherited from family members. Roger called Larry and asked Larry to fix roof immediately. Larry responded in a similar and condescending manner. Roger hung up the phone and threw his baseball bat against the wall, damaging the drywall and knocking out an electrical socket.
Since it was the rainy season, Roger knew it would rain again and therefore simply moved his items away from the leak and did nothing to help mitigate the damage from the leaking roof.
Larry came into the apartment to investigate the leak and found damage from not only the leak but also from the thrown baseball bat. Roger states that the baseball bat damage was a direct result of Larry’s inability to fix the leak based on his anger from Larry’s curt response.
Suppose you are a mediator. In five to seven (5-7) pages discuss the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant in which you:
Explore the legal rights and responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord.
Decide whether or not the landlord and / or the tenant had a legal duty to mitigate damages.
Determine whether or not Larry has legal grounds to evict Roger. Explain why or why not.
Describe whether or not Roger has a legal obligation to pay for the damage he caused and determine whether or not Larry would be liable for any direct damage.
Support each response with facts presented in the scenario.