T leases a house from L for a term of one year. T intends to use the house as his residence. The lease requires T to make all necessary repairs. Applicable law imposes an implied warranty of habitability, and allows the tenant to terminate the lease for breach. Applicable law otherwise follows the common law of landlord and tenant.
The house includes a fully functional kitchen, complete with a refrigerator, a dishwasher, and an electric oven. T, an avid cook, orders a special coal-burning oven from Italy. In Month One of the lease, with L’s permission, T installs the oven in the house. Because of the weight of the oven and the amount of heat it generates, the oven can only be installed on an outside wall of the house, and it requires its own chimney to vent the smoke.
Accordingly, T puts a large hole in the back wall of the house, places the oven on a brick foundation, and closes up the hole in the wall with bricks. All of the bricks are mortared in place. Once installed, the oven cannot be removed without removing and rebuilding part of the outside wall.
The house includes a basement, which T uses for household storage. In Month Three of the lease, T notices that the stairs from the first floor to the basement are rotting and unsafe. T notifies L of the problem. L voluntarily repairs the stairs, but L’s workmanship is shoddy.
Although the stairs appear to be safe, they have hidden defects. In Month Four of the lease, one of T’s social guests, G, starts down the stairs, whereupon the stairs collapse and G is injured. G immediately asserts a claim against L, but L states that T is liable because T had a duty to repair.
The stairs are unusable after the accident. Although T informs L of the condition of the stairs, L does not repair them after the guest’s accident. There is no other entrance to the basement, and as a result, L is forced to lower a ladder through the stairwell in order to access the basement. T continues to ask L to repair the stairs, to no avail. The applicable housing code requires that there be safe and functional stairs between all levels of a multi-level house.
At the end of Month Six, T notifies L that the lack of basement access renders the house uninhabitable. T declares that the lease is terminated, removes his belongings from the house, and returns the keys to L.
Upon terminating the lease, T informs L that he wants to remove the oven that he installed. L refuses, and claims that the oven is now part of the house.
- As between L and T, who is liable to G? Explain, ignoring the implied warranty of habitability.
- Did T have the right to terminate the lease? Explain.
- Ignoring the question of termination, does T have the right to remove the oven? Explain.