WADE V. JOBE, Supreme Court of UT, 1991. 818 P.2d 1006

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WADE V. JOBE, Supreme Court of UT, 1991. 818 P.2d 1006 Powered By Docstoc
WADE V. JOBE, Supreme Court of UT, 1991. 818 P.2d 1006. History: After tenant moved out, landlord filed suit in 2nd circuit court to recover unpaid rent; tenant filed counter-suit seeking an offset against rent owed b/c of uninhabitable condition; at trial, landlord was awarded judgment of $770 (full rent due) and tenant was denied any offsets; tenant’s counterclaim was dismissed; appeal Facts: Jobe rented a house in UT from Wade; shortly after moving in, she discovered many problems and w/in a couple days, had no water; investigation revealed flame of water heater had been extinguished by sewage/water in basement, causing a foul odor throughout house; tenant notified landlord, who came out a number of times, each time pumping the sewage out onto the sidewalk and relighting the water heater Tenant notified landlord she was going to withhold rent until the sewage problem was fixed permanently; Inspection by Ogden City said premises were unsafe for human occupancy; in a few weeks, division made another inspection citing a number of code violations which were a substantial hazard to health/safety of the occupants; division issued a notice property would be condemned if violations were not remedied Issue(s): Whether landlord had an implied duty of habitability. Holding: Case remanded to trial court to determine whether landlord breached the implied warranty of habitability as this opinion set forth Analysis: Whether a dwelling is habitable depends on the individual facts of the case To decide whether there is a breach of warranty of habitability: 1. warranty of habitability doesn’t require the landlord to maintain the premises in perfect condition at all times, nor does it preclude minor housing code violations or other defects; 2. landlord not liable for defects caused by tenant; 3. landlord must have reasonable time to repair material defects before a breach can be established; 4. landlord must maintain “bare living requirements” and premises are fit for human occupation (breach is not shown for malfunction of blinds or need for paint); 5. substantial compliance w/building and housing code standards—evidence of violations involving health or safety will often sustain a tenant’s claim for relief, but a house code violation is not necessary to establish a breach, as long as claimed defect has had an impact on the health of safety of the tenant; This court now established warranty of habitability, where trial court said it didn’t exist before REMEDIES: Tenant’s obligation to pay rent is conditioned upon landlord’s fulfilling of his part of the bargain; When a landlord breaches his duty to provide habitable conditions, tenant can treat duty to pay rent in 2 ways: 1) tenant can continue to pay rent or 2) tenant can withhold rent; Remedy of retroactive abatement of the rent during the period of the landlord’s default whether tenant withholds rent or not DAMAGES: Special damages may be recovered when a foreseeable result of landlord’s breach injures tenant personally or property damage, relocation expense, etc.; Percentage Diminution Approach—tenant’s recovery reflects % by which tenant’s use/enjoyment of premises has been reduced by uninhabitable conditions ( to be used)