by: Patrick A. Randolph, Jr.
Professor of Law
UMKC School of Law
LANDLORD/TENANT; HOLDOVER TENANT; MULTIPLE RENT: Claim against tenant for unpaid rent under a lease is a separate and distinct action from a claim for double rent based upon holdover statute, and judgment entered for unpaid lease rent, even if entered during time that tenant is holding over, is not res judicata as to landlord's separate claim for double rent for subsequent periods under holdover statute.
Murphree v. Aberdeen-Monroe County Hospital, 671 So.2d 1300 (Miss. 1996).
Tenant ceased paying rent near the end of a five year lease. After the end of the lease, tenant remained in occupancy, but had not yet paid any rent. Landlord sent tenant a notice demanding the rent and stating that landlord would demand statutory double rent for the holdover period. Thereafter, while tenant was still holding over, landlord sued for the rent unpaid during the lease term, and received a default judgment.
Subsequently, landlord brought an action for double rent for the entire period of holding over. Tenant claimed that landlord should have made the double rent claim for the holdover period up to the time of the filing of the first action.
Held: Default rent claim allowed. Claims based upon holdover constitute entirely separate causes of action for claim based upon the lease term, and need not be brought at the time a claim is made for the lease term. The court cites numerous cases from other jurisdictions for the point, although this is a case of first impression in Missouri.
Comment: Here the claim for holdover rent was based upon a Mississippi statute and the landlord had indicated an election to demand holdover rent early in the holdover period. This is not, however, the way things always work out.
What if the landlord elected to hold the tenant to an additional lease term as a consequence of the holding over? Under the analysis of this case, if the landlord sued for rent, it probably would have to include a claim for rent accruing during the "renewed" lease term.
What if the lease provided for liquidated damages on holding over in the amount of a multiple of the rent or some other figure? In such a case, the right to the liquidated damages would accrue under the lease, although the period covered by the claim would be the holdover period. If the landlord sued for lease rentals prior to the holdover, would it be required to include the claims for damages based upon the holdover? The Mississippi case doesn't indicate a clear answer to this one, although one might infer that it still would treat the claim for the holdover period as a separate claim, even though arising under the terms of the lease.
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