Marini v. Ireland Case Brief

Summary of Marini v. Ireland, S. Ct. New Jersey. [1970]

Relevant Facts: Tenant/df- Ireland and Landlord/pl -Marini entered into a written agreement for residential property in New Jersey. Said property, and apartment, 4 rooms and a bath was located in Camden. The toilet was broken and Pl did not repair it as there were no express provisions in the lease. Df made the necessary repairs and deducted that amount from the rent. The pl filed suit to recover.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the failure of the landlord to repair vital facilities constituted a breach of the covenant of habitability or quiet enjoyment, and thereby granting the tenant permission to repair the facilities, offsetting the cost against her rent?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Trial Ct. ruled for Pl/landlord. Df appealed, reversed and remanded for trial.

Law or Rule(s): A covenant in a lease can arise only by necessary implication from specific language of the lease or b/c it is indispensable to carry into effect the purpose of the lease.

Court Rationale: Terms are implied if the parties intended them and have only failed to express them in the lease; or b/c those terms are necessary to give business efficacy to the contract as written; or to give the contract the effect the parties would have agreed on if they had in mind the possibility of the situation which has arisen they would have expressly agreed. The leased premises 4 rooms and a bath, apartment were restricted to the purpose of a dwelling. The effect the parties would have agreed upon, as fair and reasonable men would have, was that the premises were habitable and fit for living. In a residential letting, a landlord is held to an implied covenant or warranty of habitability and livability at the inception of a residential lease. It is implied that he will repair damage to vital facilities caused by normal wear and tear. Malicious, or abnormal damage or damage from unusual usage the tenant is liable to repair. Traditionally a breach of a covenant to alter or repair conferred upon the tenant the right to terminate his/her obligation. B/c of modern housing shortages, a landlord fails to make repairs to vital facilities to maintain the premises in a livable condition, the tenant may cause the same to be done and deduct the cost from future rent. This is predicated by adequate and timely notice to the landlord. The tenant is not relieved from the obligation to pay rent so long as the landlord fails to repair. The tenant may remove him/herself from the premises or make the repairs.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The landlord has an implied duty to repair and keep in a working condition, vital facilities located on the leased premises, during the period of the lease.

Defendant’s Argument: The lease contains no covenant, or promise obligating the landlord to repair any portion of the premises during the period of the lease.

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