The following Essay Questions are taken from the Real Property volume of Siegel’s Essay & Multiple-Choice Questions and Answers, published by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. The full volume contains 30 essays (with model answers), as well as 114 multiple choice questions. (Most of the essay questions were originally asked on the California Bar Exam, and are copyright the California Board of Bar Examiners, reprinted by permission.) The book is available from your bookstore, or by visiting www.wklegaledu.com.
Landlord rented a furnished apartment in his building to Tenant, a law student, for two years, beginning June 1. When Tenant arrived at the apartment on June 1, Ralph (the prior tenant) was still there. Tenant complained to Landlord and Landlord was able to evict Ralph on June 15. Tenant went into possession of the apartment on June 16. During early July, some children playing baseball broke a windowpane in Tenant’s apartment. Tenant demanded that Landlord replace the windowpane, but Landlord refused. Rain, which subsequently came through the broken pane, caused damage to the living room floor, which began to warp.
The apartment above Tenant’s was occupied by Charlie, a member of a famous rock group (The Charles River). The daily rehearsals (typically 2:00-6:00 p.m.) of this group interfered with Tenant’s law studies so much that he complained repeatedly to Landlord. On July 15, three of Charlie’s friends (the other members of Charlie’s band) were arrested at Charlie’s apartment and charged with possession of narcotics. The noise stopped immediately thereafter.
On August 30, Tenant discovered that the stove in his apartment was no longer functioning. On August 31, Tenant, disgusted with all these events, knocked on Landlord’s door, tendered the key to Landlord, and said, “This place is a zoo; I wouldn’t live here if you paid me!” Landlord took the key without saying a word. Landlord now comes to you wanting to sue Tenant for the accrued (Tenant has yet to pay any rent) and prospective rent. What would you advise Landlord? Discuss.
Alice has just shown you a deed which was recorded 40 years ago. This document reads as follows:
In consideration of love and affection, I hereby grant Sweetholm to my friend Josiah and the heirs of his body, this conveyance to take effect 10 years from the date hereof, provided that if Josiah dies without issue the estate is to go to my brother Ludwig and his heirs, and further provided that if animals, birds or children are ever kept on the property, the estate is to cease and determine.
You ascertain from Alicia that her house, with its surrounding grounds of about 10 acres, is known as Sweetholm. Alicia tells you that she bought Sweetholm from Josiah’s niece, Jennifer, 11 years ago. The deed transferred to Alicia “all my right, title and interest in Sweetholm.” Alicia also tells you that when she bought the property the guest house near the southwest boundary of the estate was occupied by Danny, Jennifer’s cousin. Danny had visited Jennifer 12 years ago and decided to stay to work on a novel. Jennifer had asked Alicia to let Danny stay there for awhile, “since he was finding himself.” Alicia said it would probably be “all right, if Danny did not get in my way.” Alicia thought it might be a good idea to have a male on the property to frighten away prospective thieves. Soon after Jennifer vacated Sweetholm, Danny built a separate mailbox outside the guest house and placed a doormat in front of the entrance, which read “Welcome to Danny’s.”
It seems that the estate bordering Sweetholm on the west, Laurel Hill, had been purchased 14 years ago by Wilson, a scientist doing research on the territorial habits of wild dogs, coyotes and wolves. Wilson had captured several wolves and brought them to Laurel Hill. When Alicia took over the property from Jennifer, Wilson talked to her about the wolves. Alicia promised him, in a valid writing, that she would allow the wolves to wander freely over Sweetholm. The wolves soon manifested their territorial behavior and took up residence on the southwest corner of Sweetholm.
Unfortunately, when Danny saw one of the animals wandering around near the guest house about 2 months ago, he suddenly took it into his head that it would make a nice pet. He enticed it into his enclosed patio and kept it there, even when it resisted his first efforts to make friends and bit his hand when he tried to feed it.
About a week ago Alicia received an unpleasant visit from Trivers, Wilson’s co-experimenter, who had purchased Laurel Hill from Wilson last summer. Trivers threatened to sue Alicia because Danny had tampered with a subject involved in his experiment. Alicia became upset with the whole thing and evicted both Danny and the wolves from Sweetholm that very evening. Alicia hastily had a chicken wire fence constructed on the western boundary of Sweetholm so that the wolves could not get back in. Last night, (1) Danny called and claimed that he owned the guest house, and (2) Trivers called and threatened to obtain an injunction requiring Alicia to remove the chicken wire fence.
Alicia asks you whether Trivers and Danny really have any viable claims against her. She also wants to know whether there are any other people who might show up to claim an interest in Sweetholm.
In response to initial questioning from you, Alicia tells you that Vladimir is dead and Josef is his sole heir; that Ludwig is dead and Richard is his sole heir; and that Josiah is also dead, but Jennifer, his niece and only heir, is still alive. You have also learned that the Statute of Limitations for actions to recover real property is 10 years. Please evaluate the possible claims of Danny, Trivers, and any other person(s) you think might have a plausible claim to some interest in Sweetholm.