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Jade Eastern Trading, Inc. v. Bonanno Real Estate Group II, L.P.

A-6061-95T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1997) (Unpublished)

LEASES; CONSTRUCTIVE EVICTION—Tenant claimed constructive eviction and the Court needed to decide if the roof leak was a maintenance issue or a structural matter.

A tenant claimed constructive eviction from space it leased and sued for a refund of the security deposit. Constructive eviction is a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment and occurs through an act or omission of the landlord which deprives the tenant of the use and enjoyment of the premises. The trial court held tenant had been constructively evicted through failure of landlord to repair a leaky roof. Testimony indicated there were numerous complaints of leaks and numerous incidents of damage to merchandise and other property, including damage from a fire caused by a roofer’s blowtorch while the roof was being repaired by landlord’s contractor. Landlord claimed tenant was required to maintain the roof but the trial judge concluded that the problems were structural and therefore the landlord’s responsibility. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the conclusion that tenant had been constructively evicted and was properly awarded the return of its security deposit, and that landlord’s claim for breach of lease was properly dismissed.


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