Comedy v. Vito

492 A.2d 276 (D.C. 1985)

 

RULE:

When chattels left on the property by a former tenant interfere with the landlord's use of the property, the landlord is entitled to recover the cost of removal.

FACTS:

The tenant vacated the premises that he leased from the landlord. The tenant's subtenant expressed an interest in remaining at the premises, and he was allowed to remain on the premises and to negotiate a sublease with the new prime tenant. The landlord then sued the tenant to collect holdover rent, based on the tenant's alleged incomplete vacation of the premises and the subtenant's failure to vacate. The trial court found for the landlord, ruling that the fact that the tenant failed to remove articles of personal property interfered with the landlord's use of the property to an extent sufficient to transform the tenant into a holdover tenant.

ISSUE:

Was a holdover created when the tenant left some articles of personal property on the leased premises?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

A holdover did not result from the leaving of a small amount of property on the premises without any intention of enjoying possession of the premises. Because the landlord could have easily removed the articles of personal property, the tenant was not a holdover tenant. The tenant was not liable to the landlord for the space occupied by the subtenant, as the landlord's acquiescence in the subtenant's remaining on the premises divested the tenant of any responsibility to pay rent for this space. 

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