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Martorana Enterprises v. Visions Beauty Spa, Inc.

A-0356-07T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

LEASES; REPAIRS — Where a lease only requires a tenant to repair or maintain items within its demised premises, the landlord remains responsible for a rooftop HVAC system even if the system is an individualized unit for the demised premises alone.

A lease required the tenant to take “‘good care of the premises’ including making at its ‘own cost and expense… all repairs, including painting and decorating, and ... maintain[ing] the premises in good condition and state of repair[.]’” An issue arose as to who, as between the tenant and its landlord, was obligated “to pay for the cost of repairing the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system for the premises, with its primary mechanism located on the roof of the structure.” The lower court ruled that it was “the landlord’s obligation to repair and maintain the HVAC system located on the roof, even if the HVAC system, as stipulated, was an individualized unit for the leasehold premises alone.” Further, the lower court held that “failure by the landlord to provide a working HVAC system [was] indeed a physical interference with the tenant’s use of the premises[.]”

On appeal, the Appellate Division pointed out that “[t]he terms of the lease did not define the ‘premises’ except by address. Ambiguities in a lease which are reasonably susceptible of disparate interpretations should be resolved in favor of the tenant.”

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