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Decisions and Orders for All Condition
of Property at Move-In Cases

This page contains summaries of Decisions and Orders (D&O) for Condition of Property at Move-In cases made by the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affiars (COLTA).  To view the summary, click on the Case Number.  To view the complete D&O, click on the case number contained within the summary.

Case # Case Name Date Order Issued Prevailing Party/Award
25995 Kiichi and Ekanem Take vs. Stellar GT TIC, LLC and VFF TIC, LLC Oct. 13, 2005 Tenant $2,500.00
10569 Jonathan Hunn vs. Barry and Emily Wasser Feb. 12, 2002 Landlord Dismissed
3797 Joan D. Butts vs. Tani and Mark Corey June 25, 1999 Landlord Dismissed
4747 Dennis H. McCune vs. David Swanner June 22, 1999 Landlord Dismissed
4546 Barbara Wetherall vs. Chander and Ashima Kant Dec. 16, 1998 Tenant $5,958.00
7016 Kenneth Calhoun and Tamika Johnson vs. Billy Danny Rocha-Guzman Aug. 12, 1998 Landlord Dismissed
4267 George and Regina Haritos vs. Brian and Joanne Fitzell Aug. 12, 1998 Tenant $3,108.00
4406 Dean & Cathy Baird vs. Nora P. Szeto May 11, 1998 Landlord Dismissed
3722 Douaji, Chirchi vs. Kent May 11, 1998 Tenant $1,208.70
H-1516 William and Stephanie Wharton vs. Mervyn and Hania Schwedt July 8,. 1997 Tenant $5,919.99

 

Case Summaries


Arrow, up icon Kiichi and Ekanem Take vs. Stellar GT TIC, LLC and VFF TIC, LLC

Case #  25995
Date Order Issued  October 13, 2005
Subject  Condition of the Property at Move-In

Summary of Complaint
The Complainants, current tenants Kiichi and Ekanem Take, filed a complaint claiming that their landlord, Respondents Stellar GT TIC, LLC and VFF TIC, LLC, and their employee: (1) were negligent when conducting a plumbing repair in their Apartment and broke a water pipe which resulted in water damage to their personal property, and (2) have refused to pay them fair compensation for the restoration and/or loss of that personal property.
          
Respondents, who at no time have denied that the water pipe burst in the Complainants' Apartment during a repair being made by their employee, offered the Complainants one-month's rent ($1,085.00) as compensation for the inconvenience caused by the broken water pipe, which Respondents considered to be fair and reasonable.

The Complainants requested an Order from the Commission for the Respondents to pay them $5,360.00, which sum represents the actual costs they incurred to repair or restore their water damaged personal property, and the depreciated value of other water damaged items.

Findings
The Commission found that: (1) at the time the Complainants took possession of the Apartment, on or about July 10, 2004, there was a defective and leaking water pipe under the bathroom sink, which constitutes a violation of Section 29-27(m) of the County Code. The Commission further found that Respondents' agent was negligent in causing the flood in the Complainants' Apartment on July 19, 2004, and pursuant to Section 29-27(b) of the County Code and Paragraph 16 of the Lease, the Respondents have caused a defective tenancy and are liable to the Complainants for the actual damages or loss sustained by the Complainants as a result of the Respondents' negligence. The Complainants sustained actual damage or loss in the amount of $5,360.00 as the direct result of the Respondents' negligence related to the broken water pipe in the Apartment on July 19, 2004.  Pursuant to Section 29-47(b)(5) of the County Code, the Commission may award Complainants "An award of damages sustained by the tenant as a result of the defective tenancy, limited to actual damage or loss incurred by the tenant. The award must not exceed $2,500 per affected dwelling unit."  Therefore, although the Respondents are liable to the Complainants in the amount of $5,360.00, the Commission was limited to an award of $2,500.00.

The Order
The Commission ordered the Respondents to pay the Complainants $2500.00, which sum represents a portion of the actual damage or loss they sustained as a result of the Respondents, negligence.


Arrow, up icon Jonathan Hunn vs. Barry and Emily Wasser

Case #  10569
Date Order Issued  February 12, 2002
Subject  Condition of the Property at Commencement of Tenancy

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:  (1) the lease does not contain a provision acknowledging the Landlord's responsibility for maintenance set forth in Section 29-26(d) of the County Code nor does the lease contain a covenant that the landlord will deliver the property in a clean, safe, and sanitary condition per Section 29-26(n);  (2) the Landlord failed to deliver the Property to the Tenant in a clean and sanitary condition in complete compliance with all applicable laws which caused a defective tenancy; (3) the Tenant was within his rights to terminate the Lease and is entitled to relief from any obligations under the lease after the end of July 2000; (4) the level and nature of Housing Code violations does not rise to the level of posing an immediate threat to the health, safety, and well being of the Tenant; (5) the Tenant vacated the Property one day after the Department issued 28 Housing Code violations which did not provide the Landlord enough time to correct the violations; (6) although a defective tenancy existed and the Tenant was within his right to terminate the lease, the Tenant is not entitled to a refund of July 2002 rent nor attorney's fees; and (7) the Tenant's complaint was dismissed.

Commissioners John Peterson and Martin Schnider, Jr., Chair, constituting a majority, concurred with the decision to dismiss the Tenant's complaint.  Commissioner Travis Nelson dissented and found that:  (1) the Property was not conveyed in a clean and habitable condition; (2) the purpose of the contract was thwarted and the Landlord committed a material breach from the commencement of the contract; (3) the Tenant had the right to rescind the contract; and (4) the Tenant is entitled to reimbursement of rent paid.


Arrow, up icon Joan D. Butts vs. Tani and Mark Corey

Case #  3797
Date Order Issued  June 25, 1999
Subject  Condition of the Property at Move-In

On May 15, 1997, Joan D. Butts, Tenant, filed a complaint against Tani and M ark Corey, Landlords, in which she alleged the Landlord 1) failed to deliver the Property to her in a clean, safe and sanitary condition at the time they were scheduled to take possession; and 2) failed to refund all but one day of the first month's rent in the amount of $918.33.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

  1. the Landlord did deliver the Property to the Complainant with deficiencies which included an unclean kitchen, trash in the backyard and evidence of water leakage on the master bedroom ceiling;
  2. the deficiencies noted in number 1 were corrected within 24 hours;
  3. the deficiencies at the Property did not rise to the level of code violations;
  4. the Tenant failed to provide sufficient probative evidence to demonstrate the Property was uninhabitable; and,
  5. the Tenant was not justified in breaking her lease agreement with the Landlord, therefore the withholding of the first month's rent by the Landlord was justified.
  6. On June 25, 1999, the Commission dismissed Case No. 3797, Joanne Butts v. Tami and Mark Corey.

Arrow, up icon Dennis H. McCune vs. David Swanner

Case #  4747
Date Order Issued  June 22, 1999
Subject  Condition of the Property at Move-In

On August 6, 1997, Dennis H. McCune, Tenant, filed a complaint against David Swanner, Landlord, in which he alleged the Landlord 1) failed to deliver the Property to him in a clean, safe and sanitary condition at the time he took possession; and 2) failed to refund his security deposit after he notified the Landlord of his intention not to take possession of the Property.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

  1. the Landlord did deliver the Property to the Complainant with deficiencies which included an unclean gas stove, that was not usable in its current condition and a musty odor emanating from a carpet on the porch addition to the Property;
  2. the Tenant vacated the Property within four days of taking possession;
  3. the deficiencies noted in number 1 were corrected after the Tenant vacated the Property;
  4. the Tenant failed to provide sufficient probative evidence to demonstrate the Property was uninhabitable; and
  5. the Tenant was not justified in breaking his lease agreement with the Landlord, therefore the withholding of the security deposit by the Landlord was justified.
  6. On June 22, 1999, the Commission dismissed Case No. 4747, Dennis H. McCune v. David Swanner.

Arrow, up icon Barbara Wetherall vs. Chander and Ashima Kant

Case #  4546
Date Order Issued  December 16, 1998
Subject  Maintenance, Breach of Lease, Retaliation

On July 18, 1997, Barbara Wetherall, Tenant, filed a complaint against her former Landlord, Chander and Ashima Kant, in which she alleged that the Landlord failed to deliver the Property in clean, safe and sanitary condition, in compliance with all applicable laws at the commencement of the tenancy; failed to make needed and necessary repairs to the Property in a timely and workmanlike manner, which reduced the value of the leasehold; issued her a notice to vacate the Property in retaliation for making requests for repairs; and, failed to make repairs and attempted to evict her without cause.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

  1. several defects existed at the Property when the Tenant took possession, including a faulty kitchen faucet, a leaky washing machine, a defective garage door mechanism, a defective water heater and a deteriorated perimeter fence;
  2. the Tenant provided the Landlord with actual and written notice of the defects within two weeks of moving into the Property;
  3. many of these defects were pre-existing, as evidenced by the testimony of the previous tenant at the Property, White, and the testimony of the Housing Code Enforcement Inspector, Morris, who cited the owner for the deteriorated fence prior to the Tenant moving into the Property;
  4. the deteriorated fence and defective garage closing mechanism were a threat to the Tenant's health and safety; and,
  5. the requested/required repairs to the Property were not made in a timely or workmanlike manner.

Regarding the allegations of retaliation, the Commission found that:

  1. the Landlord issued the Tenant a notice to vacate the Property in retaliation for her requests that he make repairs to the Property;
  2. the Landlord engaged in a pattern of retaliatory practice against tenants who requested repairs, and the Landlord's threats of eviction, notices to vacate, repeated filings against the Tenant in the District Court, and failure to make required/requested repairs were all retaliatory actions against the Tenant.

Regarding the allegations of breach of lease, the Commission found that:

  1. the Landlord rented the Property to the Tenant with pre-existing damages and with full knowledge that the Property was not in compliance with Section 29-26(n) of Chapter 29;
  2. the Landlord's failure to make needed and necessary repairs to the Property after being put on notice by both the Tenant and the Department of Housing and Community Affairs was a violation of Section 29-30(a) of the County Code and Paragraph 9 of the lease agreement;
  3. the Landlord's failure to deliver the Property to the Tenant at the commencement of the tenancy in compliance with all applicable laws and his failure to make repairs after being put on notice by both the Tenant and the Department, decreased the Tenant's ability to use certain appliances during the tenancy and lead to her inability to let her dog run loose in the backyard for her entire tenancy, constituted a diminution of the value of the leasehold by 15%; and,
  4. the Landlord's failure to make needed and necessary repairs to the Property and attempts to evict the Tenant prior to the expiration of the lease constituted a significant and substantial breach of the lease, which caused the Tenant not to exercise her renewal option for a second year and caused her to incur actual expense to relocate.

On July 18, 1998, the Commission:

  1. terminated the lease agreement effective May 31, 1998;
  2. ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenant $5,958.00, which sum represents the Tenant's entire security deposit ($1,400) plus accrued interest ($56.00), attorney's fees ($1,000.00), costs incurred to relocate from the Property based on the Landlord's breach of lease ($982.00), and 15% of the monthly rent for 12 months based on the reduced value of the leasehold ($2,520.00);
  3. ordered the Landlord to cease the practice of issuing a vacate notice to any tenant residing in property he owns, operates or manages in Montgomery County based solely on the tenant's request for repairs or for filing a complaint with the Department or the Commission;
  4. ordered the Landlord, for a period of two years from the date of the order, to submit all lease agreements to the Department for review and approval, prior to their issuance; and
  5. ordered the Landlord to make any and all repairs to the Property, generated by future tenants or community residents, in accordance with the time frames and instructions set by the Department. Failure to adhere to the provisions of the Order is grounds for the issuance of a Class A civil citation in the amount of $500.00 and the immediate revocation of any and all Rental Licenses held by the Landlord.

Arrow, up icon Kenneth Calhoun and Tamika Johnson vs. Billy Danny Rocha-Guzman

Case #  7016
Date Order Issued  August 12, 1998
Subject  Condition of the Property at Move-In

A hearing in the matter of a complaint filed by Kenneth Calhoun and Tamika Johnson, Tenants, against Billy Danny Rocha-Guzman, Landlord, was scheduled for July 9, 1998. The record reflects that both parties were properly notified of the date and time of the public hearing. The record also reflects that the Tenants failed to appear - or appoint anyone to appear on their behalf - after being properly notified to appear.

The hearing was convened with only the Landlord present after the Commission waited for one-half hour for the Tenants to arrive. The Landlord requested the hearing proceed without the Tenants and agreed to enter the case file prepared by the Department of Housing and Community Affairs into evidence. The Commission also entered into evidence the certified return/receipt card, signed by the Tenants, as proof they were aware of the date and time of the hearing. The Landlord presented evidence and testimony in support of his position that the case be dismissed. The Commission treated this as a motion for dismissal and granted it. The hearing record was closed with the proviso that the Tenants be given fifteen (15) days to file a motion requesting the record be reopened. The Tenants were so notified.

The Tenant Kenneth Calhoun, submitted a motion to reopen the record, citing his beginning a new job and losing track of the date as the reason he failed to appear. After consideration of this motion by the Commission, it was decided that the Tenant's failure to keep track of important dates was not sufficient cause to reopen the hearing record. The Commission's order to Dismiss this case was upheld.


Arrow, up icon George and Regina Haritos vs. Brian and Joanne Fitzell

Case #  4267
Date Order Issued  August 12, 1998
Subject  Condition of the Property at Move-In

On June 25, 1997, George and Regina Haritos, Tenants, filed a complaint against Brian and Joanne Fitzell, Landlords, in which they alleged the Landlord 1) failed to deliver the Property to them in a clean, safe and sanitary condition at the time they were scheduled to take possession; 2) failed to make needed and necessary repairs to the Property prior to their scheduled move-in date; 3) failed to provide them with the lead paint disclosure required by State law; and, 4) failed to refund their security deposit and first month's rent after they notified the Fitzells in writing of their intention not to take possession of the Property.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

  1. the Landlord failed to deliver the Property in a clean safe and sanitary condition, in violation of Section 29-26(n) of the County Code and the Tenants were justified in refusing to take possession of the Property;
  2. the lease for the Property never became possessory, no present leasehold interest was created, and the Landlord was not entitled to rent;
  3. the Landlord had no reasonable basis to withhold the Tenants' security deposit and improperly disposed of it, in violation of Section 8-203 of the Real Property Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, 1996 ("State Code"); and
  4. the Landlord failed to give a proper receipt for the security deposit in violation of Section 8-203(a) of the State code.

On August 12, 1998, the Commission declared the lease between the Landlord and Tenants null and void and ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenants $3,018.00, which sum represents the Tenants' pro-rated rent, $133.00, their security deposit $1,375.00, their first month's rent $1,375.00, $25.00 penalty for failing to properly receipt the security deposit, and simple interest of $110.00.


Arrow, up icon Dean & Cathy Baird vs. Nora P. Szeto

Case #  4406
Date Order Issued  May 11, 1998
Subject  Condition of the Property at Move-In

On July 8, 1997, Dean and Cathy Baird, Tenants, filed a complaint against Nora P. Szeto, Landlord, in which they alleged that the Landlord (1) failed to deliver the Property in clean, safe and sanitary condition at the commencement of their tenancy; and, (2) refused to refund their security deposit and first month's rent after they notified the Landlord in writing of their intention not to take possession of the Property.

The Landlord alleged that the deficiencies pointed out by the Tenants were minor in nature and were corrected within 48-72 hours, and that by not moving in as scheduled, she lost July and August 1997 rent and is entitled to retain the Tenants' security deposit and first month's rent.

After a public hearing was held, the Commission found that:

  1. the deficiencies noted at the Property were minor in nature and the Landlord's agent informed the Tenants he would notify the Landlord immediately regarding their concerns;
  2. on notification of the deficiencies, the Landlord had them corrected within 48-72 hours; and,
  3. after receiving the Tenants' notice to vacate, the Landlord did expeditiously attempt to re-rent the Property and secure a new tenant.

After a review of all materials and testimony submitted, the Commission found that a defective tenancy did not exist and ordered Case No. 4406 be dismissed.


Arrow, up icon Douaji, Chirchi vs. Kent

Case #  3722
Date Order Issued  May 11, 1998
Subject  Condition of the Property at Move-In

On May 9, 1997, Tenants Douaji and Chirchi filed a complaint against Landlord Kent in which they alleged that the Landlord failed to provide the Property to them in clean, safe and sanitary condition at the commencement of their lease and they, therefore wanted the lease agreement terminated immediately and their security deposit returned in full. The Landlord contended that most of the required/requested repairs were made and the Tenants signed a lease to rent the Property "as is" and he was under no obligation to return their deposit since they defaulted on the lease.

After a public hearing was held, the Commission found: (1) the Landlord failed to correct several violations of Chapter 26, Housing and Building Maintenance Standards of the Montgomery County Code, 1996, as amended ("County Code") before the Tenants moved in, the most serious being a missing smoke detector outside the kitchen area; (2) while the Landlord did take steps to correct the deficiencies that existed at the Property, he failed to bring it up to habitable standards, despite having ample time to do so; and (3) the Landlord failed to meet the standard in Section 29-26(n) of the County Code which requires that each lease for a rental facility located in Montgomery County must "contain a covenant that the landlord will deliver the leased premises and all common areas in a clean, safe, and sanitary condition, free of rodents and vermin and in complete compliance with all applicable laws."

The Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenants $1,208.70 which sum represents their security deposit (1,185.00) plus 11 months accrued simple interest (23.70).

The Landlord has filed an appeal with the Circuit Court of Montgomery County for judicial review but to date, this case has not been heard.


Arrow, up icon William and Stephanie Wharton vs. Mervyn and Hania Schwedt

Case #  H-1516
Date Order Issued  July 8, 1997
Subject  Failure to Make Repairs, Rent Abatement

On March 8, 1996, William and Stephanie Wharton, Tenants, filed a complaint against Mervyn and Hania Schwedt, Landlord, in which they alleged that the Landlord failed to deliver the Property at the commencement of their tenancy in a clean, safe and habitable condition. The Tenants asserted that because of this negligence, the value of the leasehold was greatly diminished.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission determined that:

  1. the Property was in disrepair at the commencement of the tenancy which caused a three and one-half month delay in occupancy by the Tenants;
  2. the Landlord failed to make any repairs to the Property from the original commencement date to the date of the hearing;
  3. the District Court had established a rent ecrow account in July 1996;
  4. during the period the house was uninhabitable, the Tenants paid rent to the Landlord's mother at the rate of $75 per week;
  5. the Landlord failed to repair several plumbing leaks, after being notified by County Code Enforcement and the Tenants;
  6. as a result of this failure to make repairs, the Tenants incurred a cost of $166.00 to make these repairs and incurred a water bill of $427.98; and,
  7. the Landlord amended the original lease to state that the Tenants accepted the property in "as is" condition.

The Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenants $5,919.99, which sum represents: 1) the Tenants' security deposit ($1,000.00) plus one year's interest ($40.00); 2) all rent paid by the Tenants between January and March, 1996 ($3,000.00); 3) partial refund of the rent paid between April and June 1996 ($1,500.00); 4) one-half of the WSSC bill ($213.99); and 5) reimbursement for plumbing repairs ($166.00). The Commission further ordered the immediate termination of the lease agreement between the Landlord and the Tenants.