Cases in Real Estate
is a weekly update on real estate law, with legal principles illustrated and
explained by lawsuits from around the country. The topics are wide-ranging for
appeal to a broad spectrum of readers including lawyers, homeowners, investors
and the general public. Andrea Lee Negroni, a Washington DC
attorney and legal writer with 25 years of experience in financial services and
mortgage law, contributes the case summaries.
Real Cases in Real Estate will learn and be entertained by lawsuits
involving nuisance, trespass, zoning violations, deed restrictions, title
insurance, public utilities, mechanics liens, construction defects, adverse
possession, foreclosure and eviction, divorce and marital property rights,
tenants' rights, and more. Real Cases in Real Estate uncovers the
unpredictable, amusing, and sometimes outrageous disputes between next-door
neighbors, contractors and homeowners, condo boards and residents, real estate
brokers and homebuyers, and zoning administrators and developers.
cited case summary highlights the essential law of the case and explains the
principal legal theories and concepts relevant to the outcome. Plain language
treatment makes Real Cases in Real Estate accessible to lawyers and
follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new
and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.
for the Week of August 6th, 2012
Landlord Can Assess a Late Charge for Late Rent, or
Declare His Tenant in Breach of the Lease for Non-Payment, but Not Both.
The Morelands rented an apartment at Pecan Valley Apartments
in San Antonio, Texas, for $559 a month. Claiming that the tenant was in
default for non-payment of two months' rent, the landlord brought a forcible
detainer action against his tenants. Forcible
detainer means that a tenant at will or a tenant by sufferance (see Real Cases, Apartment Complex Owner's 17-Year Battle Over Possession of the
Laundry Rooms, July 31st, 2012, for definitions of the terms tenant at will and tenant by sufferance), or a tenant from month to month, whose
tenancy has been terminated, retains possession of the premises after he
receives the landlord's written demand for possession. In a forcible detainer
suit, the landlord sues the tenant to recover possession of property.
The Morelands said they had always paid their rent on time;
their lease allowed them to pay the rent at the manager's office or by dropping
the rent in a mail slot. At the trial, Mr. Moreland produced copies of money
orders for the disputed two months' rent and said he put those money orders in
the mail slot. Rent was due on the first of each month; Moreland's copies of
the money orders were dated March 5 and April 3. The landlord claimed the money
orders were never received and that Moreland breached his lease anyway, because
the money order receipts proved his rent wasn't paid on the first of the month.
Even though the lease contained no grace period for rent
payments, it had a provision for an initial late charge of $30 plus an
additional $5 per day if rent wasn't paid by the 3rd of a month. The landlord's
late charge provision caused him to lose his case, with the court stating that "because
the lease allows for late payments, payment of rent after the first day of the
month does not amount to a breach of the lease."
Pecan Valley Golf
Apartments v. Moreland, 2011 Tex. App. LEXIS 1509 (March 2, 2011) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers].
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