Implied Warranty of Habitability:
Poyck v. Bryant
Secondhand smoke is becoming a nuisance to many in our society. This is an ever-growing problem with residents that live in multi-unit dwellings as smoking occurs in common areas and is transmitted through to adjacent living spaces. In the case that follows, you will see how this issue is resolved between a landlord and tenant. The concepts of warranty of habitability and constructive eviction are discussed in detail. Specifically, secondhand smoke sets the stage for the next precedent for a breach of the warranty of habitability.
The parties involved in this case are the plaintiff, Peter Poyck, and the defendants, ...view middle of the document...
Bryant sent a letter to the superintendent, Mr. Poyck, and Mr. Poyck’s attorney informing them that they can either remedy the hazardous condition or they, the Bryants, will be forced to move out of the condominium. In that letter, he also informed them about his wife’s medical condition. The landlord did nothing to try to alleviate the smoke problem. On August 1, 2001, the Bryants sent another letter to the landlord indicating that they had decided to vacate the premises by the end of August. They did indeed vacate by the stated date.
Peter Poyck decided that he would sue the Bryants for the remainder of the rent for the year of 2001 and any associated late fees. The Bryants responded with a written defense “denying the allegations of the complaint and asserting their third and fourth affirmative defenses and first and second counterclaims for breach of warranty of habitability and constructive eviction due to secondhand smoke” (Peter Poyck, Plaintiff, v Stan Bryant et al., Defendants, 2012). Around June 2005, Poyck asked the court to strike or dismiss the defendants third and fourth affirmative defenses and first and second counterclaims. On October 14, 2005, the court denied his motion but it was because he did not submit all of the required paperwork to the court. The court wanted to know if he owned condominium 5-D, 5-C, and/or the entire building. They wanted to know who owned condominium 5-C, who oversaw the common space in the building and whether there were any building rules that stipulated if smoking was allowed at all or where it was allowed. The paperwork that Poyck failed to submit to the court would have answered all of these questions. Around, March 2006, the plaintiff submitted his documentation to the court and again asked the court to strike or dismiss the defendants’ defenses and counterclaims. The defendants opposed the motion but the court decided to hear the case in August 2006. The court ruled in favor of the defendants. Not only was the motion against them denied, but the court ruled that they were justified in vacating condominium 5-D due to the implied warranty of habitability causing a constructive eviction.
The issue at hand here is whether secondhand smoke is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability and is a reason to cause a constructive eviction. We must first define what is meant by the “implied warranty of habitability” and “constructive eviction.” The warranty of habitability states that “leased premises must be fit, safe, and suitable for ordinary residential use” (Cheeseman, 2009, p.774). When there is a lease, the landlord and the tenant have to perform specific duties. “Caveat lessee” no longer applies and it is the landlord’s duty to make sure that the premises are habitable. Therefore, a constructive eviction is one that occurs when “residential rental property is in an uninhabitable condition. The uninhabitable condition makes the property unsuitable to live in,...