SMITH V. MCENANY, Supreme Ct. of MA, 1897. 170 Mass. 26, 48 N.E. 781 by JohnMValentine


SMITH V. MCENANY, Supreme Ct. of MA, 1897. 170 Mass. 26, 48 N.E. 781. History: Trial court ruled for Defendant on rent issue; Judge ruled that Defendant had a right to treat the building of the wall as an eviction terminating the lease; Plaintiff asked to have the ruling qualified to make the question depend upon whether the brick wall made the premises “uninhabitable for the purpose for which they were hired, materially changing the character and beneficial enjoyment thereof”; refused; Plaintiff excepted Facts: Landlord=Plaintiff sued Tenant=Defendant for not paying his rent; Plaintiff/Landlord built a permanent brick wall which crept 9”/13 ½”/2’ into Defendant’s land for 34 feet along the back of the shed used by the Plaintiff to store wagons; the wall was built by 3rd party w/Plaintiff’s consent Plaintiff owned 2 plots and Defendant was a tenant on an adjoining land; Plaintiff built a wall which encroached on the land about 2’; Defendant stopped paying rent Issue(s): Does interference by a landlord qualify as violation of a lease? Yes Does an eviction end a lease? No Holding: Plaintiff’s exceptions overruled; there is an actual partial eviction, which justifies total abatement of rent; Analysis: Wrongful eviction of the tenant by the landlord suspends the rent under the lease; it doesn’t matter how much or what part of the land the tenant was evicted from, if any part is admitted, the rent is suspended b/c the tenant has made terms that he/she should have the entire premises There is an actual partial eviction justifies total abatement of rent; tenant should be able to enjoy the whole property, cannot apportion only the part on which the tenant resides; whole land is leased, landlord can’t apportion or take back a part of it; size of land isn’t significant If it’s insignificant in importance, they don’t care about those situations, but beyond that, court will not inquire into significance of the interference Restatement looks to partial abatement for partial eviction Rent is suspended until lease is renegotiated or encroachment is removed

To top