Law School Case Brief
3000 B.C. v. Bowman Props., LTD. - 2008 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 254
A covenant of quiet enjoyment is implied into every lease in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This covenant exists between a landlord and a tenant and is breached when a tenant's possession is impaired by acts of the lessor. Any act of the landlord which results in an interference of the tenant's possession, in whole or in part, is an eviction for which the landlord is liable in damages to the tenant. A breach of the covenant can be demonstrated through constructive eviction, if the tenant can establish that the utility of the premises has been substantially and fundamentally impaired.
Plaintiff, 3000 B.C., is a professional spa, offering a variety of therapeutic treatments including massage and facials. The success of their business relied on their clients' happiness and the ability to provide a serene and tranquil environment. This objective was irrevocably destroyed at 3000 B.C., when their Indian flute music was overwhelmed by hammering, sawing, colorful language of construction workers, and by the joyful sounds of gleeful children playing while awaiting their turn at the Hair Cuttery occupying the apartment above. Defendant Bowman Properties understood that 3000 B.C. required a tranquil environment to run a spa because they had leased the property to 3000 B.C. for 12 years. 3000 B.C. filed a complaint alleging constructive eviction. Following a two-day bench trial, the trial court entered a judgment in favor of 3000 B.C., and denied Bowman Properties Post-Trial Motions. Bowman Properties sought appellate review.
Did Bowman Properties breach the covenant of quiet enjoyment through constructive eviction of 3000 B.C. when it leased an upstairs apartment to a business which cut children's hair?
The Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia County, sitting as the appellate court, determined that the manner in which Bowman Properties leased to the hair cut business violated the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The court declined to base damages on 3000 B.C.'s historic sales and alleged 25 % annual increase, because such a figure would not account for expenses. The court found the proper measure of damages would account for increased rental payments, lost profits, moving expenses, incidental expenses, attorney's fees, and good will. The court found that in the year prior to the disturbances due to noise began, 3000 B.C. reported a loss of $12,000 on its tax returns and that the following year, 3000 B.C. reported a loss of $155,000, reflected damages sustained, attorney's fees, moving expenses, and additional rent paid. The court offset the amount owed by the rent owed but unpaid to Bowman Properties. Finally, the court concluded that 3000 B.C. was entitled to an award for the loss of good will.
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