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ECHO CONSULTING SERVICES, INC. V. NORTH CONWAY BANK, Supreme Court of NH, 1995. 140 N.H. 566, 669 A.2d 227

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ECHO CONSULTING SERVICES, INC. V. NORTH CONWAY BANK, Supreme Court of NH, 1995. 140 N.H. 566, 669 A.2d 227 Powered By Docstoc
					PROPERTY
ECHO CONSULTING SERVICES, INC. V. NORTH CONWAY BANK, Supreme Court of NH, 1995. 140 N.H. 566, 669 A.2d 227 History: Plaintiff Echo sued Defendant Conway for constructive eviction, partial actual eviction, breach of an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment, and breach of the lease; parties disagree as to the extent of the interferences; Plaintiff Echo appeals the decision of the Superior Court denying all of Echo’s claims after a bench trial; Facts: Echo leased premises on the downstairs floor of a building in Conway (03/15/1986) w/”common right to access”; when the bank purchased the building from Echo’s prior landlord, it assumed the lease and became Echo’s landlord; bank underwent a series of renovations to make the main, street-level floor a branch office (on-and-off 1987) causing noise, dirt, and occasional interruptions of electric service, along w/making the rear parking lot inaccessible; during 1987, Echo’s employees used the street-level front parking lot and went in through the main, street-level entrance and going downstairs; 10/13, the bank changed the locks for security reasons on the main floor and Echo’s employees couldn’t get in or out that door during business hours; Echo employees had to use the rear door Issue(s): Did the court err in confusing constructive eviction and partial actual eviction? Did the court err in finding that locking the main doors did not constitute a partial actual eviction? Did the court err in ruling that there was no constructive eviction? Did the court err in applying the wrong legal standard to determine the quiet enjoyment issue? Holding: Affirmed in part—partial actual eviction claim denied, reversed in part, and remanded Analysis: A “partial eviction” occurs when the landlord deprives the tenant of physical possession of part of the leased property, including denial of access; Echo was not denied access to all doors, just to the one their employees chose to use; another one was still open; court REJECTS this A “constructive eviction” is similar to partial eviction except that no physical deprivation takes place; intent is not required for constructive eviction; constructive eviction is based on if factually the interference is substantial enough that it is tantamount to depriving the tenant of physical possession; it’s not constructive eviction b/c the interference wasn’t constant and the employees had the option of the other entrance; court REJECTS this A “breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment” occurs when the landlord substantially interferes w/tenant’s beneficial use or enjoyment of the premises; trial court decided that quiet enjoyment protects a tenant’s possession against repossession by the landlord or a superior, Supreme Court disagrees and reverses and remands for further investigation