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Legal Issues Between the Landlord and Tenant

Frank Johnson and Sonia Miller, along with several other friends, were looking to rent a house near campus for the following school year. In June, they orally agreed with a landlord on a one-year lease to begin the following August 15 with a monthly rent of $1,250 and provided a $1,500 security deposit. When they arrived at school in August, the current tenants were still in possession and did not move out until September 1, leaving the house a mess. The landlord told Frank and Sonia to move in and that he would clean it up later; however, he never did so despite repeated requests. They complained to the city housing department, which conducted an inspection and found numerous violations of the city's housing code. The city gave the landlord 15 days to make the necessary repairs. Before any of the repairs were made, a friend who was visiting was injured when she fell through some rotten floorboards on the porch. At the end of September, Frank, Sonia and the other tenants moved out, but the landlord refused to return their security deposit.

Among the legal issues raised by this scenario are:

Did the oral agreement create an enforceable lease?
Were the tenants' rights violated when they were unable to take possession on August 15?
Does the landlord have any liability to the injured friend?
Are the tenants entitled to cancel the lease on the grounds the house is not habitable and obtain the return of their security deposit?
If the landlord never intended to clean up the house, was it ethical for him to tell the tenants he would do so?

Solution Preview

Landlord and Tenant:

There are several instances in which an oral agreement can create an enforceable lease. Within the case, the oral agreement created an enforceable lease since they are known to be legally enforceable. Oral agreements are however, not advisable since in case of a dispute, the available parties may provide different relocations on the terms that they had agreed on orally (Tomei, n.d).

The rights of the tenants were violated when they ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses the legal issues raised between the landlord and the tenant.