Judge Armando Montano


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Plaintiff landlord sought payment of over $5,000 for an alleged breach of a commercial lease agreement, including nearly $1,700 for reasonable attorney fees. The court stated it credited defendant tenant’s testimony that the premises’ roof was already in disrepair and leaking before he rented the premises, and he never did anything to damage the roof or to cause it to leak. Further, it found any repairs made to the roof were regarded as structural repairs, and same was landlord’s responsibility. As such, the court found defendant in no way caused, nor was responsible for any damages to the room, caused before he rented the premises. Also, it ruled that notwithstanding that the lease in question pertained to non-residential premises the landlord was under a duty to keep in repair those parts of the building not leased to the tenant, and within landlord’s exclusive control. As a relatively short term tenant with a nominal rent, it was inequitable to require tenant to incur the cost of an extensive roof repair for which landlord would receive the greater benefit. Landlord’s refusal to make repairs despite numerous requests by tenant constituted a constructive eviction, and tenant was not required to pay rent after same, rendering judgment in tenant’s favor dismissing the matter.