The case affirms granting of summary judgment for the landlord and gives only sketchy information about the facts. It appears that tenants had failed to pay rent and maintain insurance, but that landlord had accepted a later rental payment and therefore had waived the right to terminate the lease for the nonpayment of rent. The landlords served upon tenants a "notice to quit," which apparently was an election of repossession rights under the lease, and not the result of a legal action. The notice did not inform the tenants of the nature of the breach giving rise to the notice to quit. When the landlords appeared to take possession under the notice to quit, the tenants presented evidence that the insurance was up-date in accordance with the lease.
Landlords refused to accept the evidence of cure and insisted that the tenants vacate immediately, which tenants did. Tenants then sued for wrongful eviction, conversion and intentional interference with prospective business relations.
Held: Summary judgment for landlord. Since landlord reentered the property to protect its economic interests in the property after the lease had been breached, there was no wrongful eviction and the other aspects of tenant's claim depended upon the eviction being wrongful.
Comment 1: There have been decisions upholding a refusal of a court to grant an eviction remedy where the tenant has been guilty of a minor technical default and has cured it. Those cases are not necessarily authority for the tenant's position here. The tenant signed the lease with the tough provisions in it, and the landlord acted within its authority, without seeking assistance from a court. The tenant should not be able to acquiesce in the landlord's tough position and then sue the landlord for it later. Reading between the lines, the tenant's moving in this case may have been an attempt to "set up" the landlord for a damage action.
Comment 2: This lease obviously had tough default and remedies clauses, but no tougher than appear in many leases. The editor's view is that such provisions really are too tough, and lawyers really interested in assisting their clients in successful long term business relationships should advise against them. Although it is appropriate for landlords to demand that rent be paid on time, and that they might justifiable insist upon a right to terminate without notice if it is not, it is less appropriate for landlords to insist that there be a right to terminate without any prior notice with regard to other lease violations. These other violations may be inadvertant or relatively minor, and a relatively short "heads up" cure period - say five or ten days - does not seem to endanger unduly the landlord's "economic interests in the property."
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