Law School Case Brief
Isbey v. Crews - 55 N.C. App. 47, 284 S.E.2d 534 (1981)
The law in North Carolina is that the non-breaching party to a lease contract has a duty to mitigate his damages upon breach of such contract.
Plaintiffs and defendants entered into a lease by which the plaintiffs agreed to lease to defendants certain premises. The lease was for a renewable term of five years and was for a rental sum of $172,040 the lease also contained a provision that prohibited subleasing without consent from lessor. From the time defendants moved into the building the defendants made all of the rental payments provided for in the lease. After operating a dialysis facility at the premises leased by plaintiffs, the defendants moved out and acquired other premises. After the defendants vacated the premises, they sought plaintiffs' permission to sublet the property to a company that sells and distributes medical supplies. Plaintiffs refused to permit the defendants to sublet the premises. Plaintiffs thereupon brought this action to recover from defendants the sum of $2,867.33 (plus interest), which the defendants allegedly were required to pay under the lease as rent due. From summary judgment awarding plaintiffs $2,867.33 plus interest, defendants appealed.
Was there an issue of material fact as to whether plaintiffs unreasonably refused to consent to the sublease proposed by defendants?
The court refused to read into the lease agreement an obligation on the part of plaintiffs to not unreasonably withhold consent to a subtenant. The court found that defendants breached their agreement with plaintiffs when they refused to make rental payments. The court held, therefore, that plaintiffs were entitled as a matter of law to recover damages for such breach. The court also found no evidence that plaintiffs failed to exercise reasonable diligence to relet the premises after defendants breached the lease agreement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
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