February 19, 2016

Hilder v. Peter | Case Brief - 144 Vt. 150, 478 A.2d 202 (1984) - Supreme Court of Vermont

FACTS: Tenant rented an apartment from LandLord which was in disrepair.  Overtime a series of problems in the apartment were not fixed.  Everytime the Landlord promised to fix the problems in the apartment nothing was done.

HISTORY: Court ordered defendant to pay $4945 for rental of apartment.

ISSUE: Three issues:

1) Whether the court correctly calculated the damages for the P?

2) Whether the court's award to the P of the entire amount of rent paid was proper since the P remained in possession of the apt. for the entire 14 month period?

3) Whether the court's finding that Stuart Peter acted on his own behalf and with the apparent authority of the D was in error?

HOLDINGS:

1) Yes

2) Yes

3) No

RATIONALE: Today's tenants enter into leases to obtain safe, sanitary, comfortable housing.

Therefore, with any lease, comes an implied warranty for the Landlord to maintain and deliver the rental property and throughout the period of tenancy keep it safe, clean and fit for human habitation.

To find breach of warranty one must first look at the local housing code.

To bring cause of action the Tenant must show proof the LandLord was contacted and reasonable time was given to fix the problem.

Remedies:

- Damages should also be allowed for the discomfort.

- Tenant may withhold payment of future rent.
    
- Tenant may deduct expenses of repairing the problem if the Landlord does not, from their rent.

- Punitive damages may be awarded for behavior which is in ill will or disregard of Tenant's rights.

- These rulings supersede the doctrine of constructive eviction because abandonment is now not a necessary component.