Reste Realty Corp v. Cooper:
Supreme Court of New Jersey, 1969
251 A.2d 268
Issue: Did the flooding violated the express covenant in the lease of quiet enjoyment such that it would constitute constructive eviction, and if so, was defendants covenant to pay rent dependant on the quiet enjoyment covenant?
Rule: Constructive Eviction: Serves as the substitute for dependency covenants; actions of a landlord that so materially disturb or impair a tenant's enjoyment of the leased premises that the tenant is effectively forced to move out and terminate the lease without liability for any further rent.
Application: Lease stated that the defendant accepted the place in its present condition.
-Defendant relied on the premise that the problem had been corrected in signing the new lease
-This latent defect was external, based on the driveway and the foundation, and not part of the premises.
-Plaintiff breached the express (though it could be implied) Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
-Plaintiff argues that by remaining so long, the defendant gave up her right to constructive eviction.
-"a reasonable time" depends on the circumstances.
-Trial court found that the vacating occurred within a reasonable time.
Conclusion: Yes, was constructive eviction which relieved defendant of the liability for rent.
-May 1958: Defendant leases commercial office space.
-Defendant found that due to an improperly graded driveway running alongside the building, the space became flooded every time it rained.
-Donnigan, an officer in the corporate owner and resident manager, would clean up the water each time it rained.
-Donnigan corrected the problem
-April 1959: Defendant and plaintiff enters into a new 5 year lease.
-Donnigan told Wittman about the flooding and how to correct it.
-March 1961: Donnigan dies, after flooding starts again, no one responds to defendants complaints
-December 20, 1961: Meeting gets flooded, defendnat is forced to flee to nearby inn.
-December 21, 1961: Defendant asks that it be cleaned up, nothing happens.
-December 30, 1961: Defendant notifies landlord, and vacates premises.
-Jan 19, 1962: Plaintiff acquires the building
-March 1964: Second lease would have expired
-November 1964: Plaintiff commences action.