Justia Iowa Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Landlord - Tenant
Lewis v. Howard L. Allen Investments, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court granting summary judgment dismissing Kristina Lewis's negligence claims against Howard L. Allen Investments, Inc. (Allen Investments), holding that Allen Investments did not owe a duty to protect Lewis from the harm she suffered.Allen Investments sold a house under a contract of sale that required the buyers to make monthly payments for ten years. Five years into the payment period the buyers leased the house to Lewis and her fiancé. The house subsequently caught fire, causing Lewis to suffer serious injuries. Lewis brought this negligence action against the buyers and Allen Investments. The district court granted summary judgment for Allen Investments, concluding that the company, as a contract seller, owed no duty to Lewis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Allen Investments was not the landlord of the property under Iowa's Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Iowa Code chapter 562A; and (2) Allen Investments owed no duty of care to Lewis to maintain the property. View "Lewis v. Howard L. Allen Investments, Inc." on Justia Law
Cohen v. Clark
In this case brought by a tenant against her landlord and a neighboring tenant alleging breach of the lease's no-pets provision the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing the case, holding that the landlord's accommodation of an emotional support dog was not reasonable.Plaintiff moved into an apartment building because of its no-pets policy. Afterwards, another tenant requested a reasonable accommodation to have his emotion support animal (ESA), a dog, with him on the apartment premises. The landlord allowed the ESA and tried to accommodate the two tenants, but Plaintiff still suffered from allergic attacks. Plaintiff sued, alleging breach of the lease and interference with the quiet enjoyment of her apartment. The landlord asserted in its defense that its waiver of the no-pets policy was a reasonable accommodation that it was required to grant under the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA). The small claims court concluded that the landlord's accommodations were reasonable. The district court dismissed the case. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) the landlord's accommodation of the ESA was not reasonable because Plaintiff had priority in time and the dog's presence posed a direct threat to her health; and (2) Plaintiff was entitled to recover on her claims. View "Cohen v. Clark" on Justia Law
Albaugh v. The Reserve
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of a "senior adult congregate living facility" on Plaintiff's complaint alleging that the facility would not return her mother's entrance fee or supplemental amount when her mother had to vacate the facility for health reasons, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the facility.In her complaint, Plaintiff, on behalf of her mother, argued that the agreement between her mother and the facility violated the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (IURLTA), Iowa Code chapter 562A, and alleged several other claims, including consumer fraud, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, and unconscionability. The district court held that the IURLA did not apply to the facility and that the facility was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the fees regulated under Iowa Code chapter 523D are not subject to the IURLTA; and (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Albaugh v. The Reserve" on Justia Law
Seeberger v. Davenport Civil Rights Commission
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court vacating an award of fees incurred during agency proceedings under a fee-shifting provision in Division II of the Davenport Civil Rights Ordinance for a housing discrimination violation charged under Division III that lacked a corresponding fee-shifting remedy, holding that that the district court correctly denied an award of attorney fees.A tenant filed a complaint with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination based on familial status in violation of the Davenport Civil Rights Ordinance and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). An administrative law judge found that the landlord committed a Division III fair housing violation and award the tenant both damages and attorney fees and costs. The Commission approved the ALJ’s decision. The district court reversed the damages award and vacated the fee award. The court of appeals reinstated the fee award. The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in awarding attorney fees because (1) the fee-shifting provision in Division II of the Ordinance was inapplicable to the fair housing violation in Division III; and (2) the Commission could not award fees under the FHA. View "Seeberger v. Davenport Civil Rights Commission" on Justia Law
Walton v. Gaffey
Landlord brought this interlocutory appeal challenging a summary judgment in favor of Tenant and the district court’s order certifying a class of tenants. Tenant filed an action seeking a declaration that certain lease provisions violated the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) some, but not all, of the challenged lease provisions were prohibited under the Act; and (2) the certification of a class in this case was procedurally flawed. The court remanded the cause for the district court to make the findings required under Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.263(1). View "Walton v. Gaffey" on Justia Law
Kline v. Southgate Property Management, LLC
After their leases expired, three tenants, on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated residential tenants, brought suit against their landlord. The district court granted summary judgment for the tenants, declaring that certain of the landlord's lease provisions violated the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The court also certified a class of tenants. The landlord brought this interlocutory appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) some, but not all, of the challenged lease provisions were prohibited under the Act; and (2) the class certification was procedurally flawed in the absence of findings required under Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.263(1). The court remanded the cause for further proceedings. View "Kline v. Southgate Property Management, LLC" on Justia Law
De Stefano v. Apartments Downtown, Inc.
After Tenants moved out of an apartment, Landlord withheld the rental deposit for an automatic carpet-cleaning charge, replacement of a damaged door, and monthly penalties for failure to pay for the door. Tenant sued in small claims court alleging that Landlord improperly failed to return the rental deposit. The magistrate held for Tenant on most issues and awarded damages. The district court upheld some but not all of the magistrate’s decision, concluding (1) Landlord could charge Tenant for the replacement of the exterior door; (2) Tenant was liable to Landlord for rent during two months when the premises was vacant; but (3) Landlord’s automatic deduction from the rental deposit for carpet cleaning violated the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (IURLTA). The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court correctly found in favor of Tenant on the issue of cleaning costs; (2) the district court erred in ruling against Tenant on the issue of liability for the door repair and on the claim for damages for failure to permit Tenants from subleasing the apartment; and (3) the district court erred in awarding punitive damages under IURLTA. View "De Stefano v. Apartments Downtown, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Landlord - Tenant
Caruso v. Apartments Downtown, Inc.
After Tenants moved out of an apartment, Landlord deducted $904 fomr the rental deposit for an automatic carpet-cleaning charge, replacement of an interior door, and monthly penalties for failure to pay for the door. Tenant filed a small claims action alleging that Landlord unreasonably failed to return the rental deposit and willfully used a rental agreement with known prohibited provisions. A magistrate determined that Landlord violated the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (IURLTA) by requiring Tenants to pay for the interior door repair and for the cost of carpet cleaning. The magistrate concluded that Tenant was entitled to punitive damages for bad-faith retention of the rental deposit and an award of two months’ rent for willfully using provisions in its rental agreement that violated the IURLTA. The magistrate awarded Tenant an additional two months’ rent and attorneys’ fees. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in all respects except on the issue of a knowing use of provisions violating the IURLTA and a bad-faith retention of the rental deposit, holding (1) the record does not contain sufficient evidence to support a knowing violation of the IURLTA, and (2) there was insufficient fact-finding on the issue of bad-faith retention of the rental deposit. Remanded. View "Caruso v. Apartments Downtown, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Landlord - Tenant
Alta Vista Props., LLC vs. Mauer Vision Ctr., PC
Tenant leased certain property from Landlord. Landlord filed a petition for a declaratory judgment seeking a ruling that it could have reasonable access to the property to show it to prospective buyers. The district court found the lease to be unambiguous and granted summary judgment to Tenant, concluding that Tenant could exclude Landlord from showing the property until ninety days remained in the term of the lease. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court, holding that lease provisions that gave Landlord the right to sell the property at any time during the lease term encompassed the right to access the property temporarily at reasonable times to show the property to prospective buyers. View "Alta Vista Props., LLC vs. Mauer Vision Ctr., PC" on Justia Law
Crawford v. Yotty
Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants, residential landlords, after Plaintiff slipped and fell on the premises while visiting her son, who leased an apartment from Defendants. After a jury trial, the trial court ruled in favor of Defendants. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, concluding that the district court erred in excluding Plaintiff's proposed instructions informing the jury of a landlord's obligations under the lease agreement and under Iowa Code 562A.15(1)(a)-(d). The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and affirmed the district court's ruling, holding that the legal concepts contained in Plaintiff's requested instructions were adequately embodied in other instructions given by the district court. View "Crawford v. Yotty" on Justia Law