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Julian v. Christopher
Maryland Court of Appeals
575 A.2d 735 (1990)
Douglas Julian and William J. Gilleland (defendants) leased a tavern and restaurant business and upstairs apartment from Guy D. Christopher (plaintiff). The lease contained a silent consent clause, stating that the lease could not be assigned or sublet without the landlord’s approval. When the lease was signed, Christopher told the tenants that the clause was simply to keep them from assigning or subletting to “someone who would tear the apartment up.” The tenants later asked Christopher for permission to sublet the upstairs apartment, and Christopher told them he would consent only if they would pay an additional $150 per month in rent. The tenants allowed the sublessee to move in, and Christopher filed an action to repossess the building. At trial, the judge refused to consider Christopher’s oral representation of the purpose of the clause. He considered only the words of the lease, and found that the lease allowed the landlord to withhold consent for any reason whatsoever. Accordingly, he ruled in favor of Christopher. The circuit court affirmed the ruling. Julian and Gilleland then appealed to the state supreme court, asking it to revisit a precedent that, given an appropriate provision in the lease, a landlord could withhold consent to sublease even if withholding consent was arbitrary and unreasonable.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chasanow, J.)
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