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Amorino v. Riley

A-330-98T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)

LEASES; DAMAGES—A tenant’s cost to maintain and repair its leased premises to satisfy its lease obligations cannot be the basis for a rent credit as an improvement to the leased property.

The tenant of a single family house concededly replaced some of its landlord’s carpeting, discarding the old carpeting. When the tenant vacated the apartment, it took its replacement carpeting with it and covered the floor with mismatched and badly sewn remnants. The lower court awarded damages to the landlord in the amount needed to restore the carpeting and gave the tenant a credit for new linoleum that it had installed on part of the floor. The tenant wanted a credit for painting and other minor repairs which it did during the period of its tenancy. The Appellate Division held that the lease provided such improvements could be made only with the landlord’s consent and became the landlord’s property upon vacation unless otherwise provided by written agreement, which was not the case here. The Court found that the tenant’s work during its occupancy was reasonably classified as maintenance. Maintenance was the tenant’s obligation. Therefore, the Court upheld the lower court’s judgment awarding damages to the landlord.


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