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Edwards v. Habib

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.397 F.2d 687, 130 U.S. App. D.C. 126 (D.C. Cir. 1968)

Brief Fact Summary. A tenant reported sanitary code violations on leased premises and thereafter the landlord moved to evict the tenant.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. That proof of retaliatory motive does constitute a defense to any action for eviction.

Facts. Appellant Edwards rented housing property from Appellee Habib on a month to month basis in March 1965. Edwards then complained to the Department of Licenses and Inspections of sanitary code violations in the leased premises, which upon inspection uncovered 40 violations and ordered the landlord to correct them. Then, the landlord gave Edwards a statutory thirty day notice to vacate and obtained a default judgment for possession of the premises. Edwards moved to reopen the judgment and alleged excusable neglect for the default and as a defense to the eviction alleged that the notice to vacate was given by the landlord in retaliation for her complaints to the housing authorities. One judge set aside the default and concluded that if Edwards could prove a retaliatory motive for the eviction that would constitute a defense to the action for possession. The case was tried before another judge who deemed the evidence of retaliation irrelevant and directed a verdict for landlord. Edw
ards then appealed to this Court for a stay pending appeal to the intermediate court of appeals and the stay was granted. The intermediate appellate court held that the landlord, under applicable statutes, could give any reason for the notice to vacate and could therefore evict a month to month tenant upon thirty days notice. The court also found that the landlord’s right to terminate tenancy was not absolute, but that any exception to the general rule, requiring no reason to be given, had to based on a specific statutory exception. Edwards appealed.

Issue. Does the landlord have an absolute right under these circumstances to terminate the month to month tenancy and evict the tenant?

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