Court Rescues Tenant from Being Evicted for Minor Mistake
What Happened: Technically, the landlord had a perfectly valid case to evict. But there was also a clear explanation why Bed Bath & Beyond (BB&B) didn’t pay its late rent until after the 10-day cure notice period expired. Its corporate headquarters was closed due to COVID-19 on the day the landlord’s notice to cure arrived. As a result, the notice was redirected to the BB&B warehouse where it came into the hands of an employee who had no authority to do anything about it. By the time BB&B straightened things out and paid the rent, the 10 days had passed. But the court stepped in at the last minute to rescue BB&B by invoking a seldom-used state rule to stop the eviction. The outraged landlord claimed that the court abused its discretion.
Ruling: The Louisiana federal appeals court upheld the ruling.
Reasoning: Although all states generally frown on lease cancellations, Louisiana has a special rule to avoid them—namely, the doctrine of “judicial control,” which allows courts to bar landlords from evicting tenants for infractions “of minor importance, caused by no fault of the tenant or based on a good faith mistake of fact,” provided that the tenant acts reasonably to correct them. All of the requisites for exercise of judicial control were in place, the court reasoned. BB&B’s infraction was minor, reasonably explained, not BB&B’s fault, and swiftly corrected. The only harm done was that it took the landlord an extra two days to get the rent. Accordingly, BB&B deserved rescue from eviction.
- Richards Clearview, L.L.C. v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.: 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 6628, __ Fed. Appx. __, 2021 WL 865310