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Louisiana Leasing Company v. Sokolow

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Louisiana Leasing Company (Plaintiff) brought an action to remove its tenants, Sokolow (Defendant) and his family, when the tenants below them complained that Defendant’s children made too much noise.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A landlord cannot evict a tenant for breach of a noise covenant in a lease when the complaining tenant moved in after the tenant making noise, and the noise was not deliberate or excessive.

    Facts.

    Defendant and his family rented an apartment from Plaintiff. The lease contained a noise covenant that prohibited tenants from making disturbing noises or interfering with the rights or “comforts of convenience” of other tenants. The Levins eventually moved in downstairs from Defendant and began to complain about the noise made by Defendant’s children. The children ran and played in their apartment, but Defendant stated that the children removed their shoes and that the noise was never excessive. Plaintiff brought an action to evict Defendant for breach of the lease’s noise covenant.

    Issue.

    Can a landlord evict a tenant for breach of a noise covenant if the noise is not excessive?

    Held.

    (Fitzpatrick, J.) No. A landlord cannot evict a tenant for breach of a noise covenant in a lease when the complaining tenant moved in after the tenant making noise, and the noise was not deliberate or excessive. Defendant was in the apartment before the Levins and no tenant before the Levins had complained about noise. The noise was from children walking and playing and was not excessive. It would be inequitable to evict Defendant under these circumstances. The petition is denied.  

    Discussion.

    This was a petition in equity and, therefore, equitable considerations determined the outcome. One principle at play was the idea of moving to the nuisance. Generally, an individual cannot move into a residence, knowing of an associated nuisance, and then complain of the nuisance. The doctrine of caveat emptor applies, since a lease is considered the sale of an interest in a piece of property for the term of the lease. Under this doctrine, purchasing such an interest in land with a nuisance gives the tenant what he bargained for, so he cannot challenge it later.


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