Ingalls v. Hobbs

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Citation156 Mass. 348,31 N.E. 286
PartiesINGALLS et al. v. HOBBS.
Decision Date09 May 1892


E. Smith, for appellants.

Choate & Dana, for appellee.



This is an action to recover $500 for the use and occupation of a furnished dwelling house at Swampscott during the summer of 1890. It was submitted to the superior court on what is entitled an "agreed statement of evidence," by which it appears that the defendant hired the premises of the plaintiffs for the season, as a furnished house, provided with beds, matresses matting, curtains, chairs, tables, kitchen utensils, and other articles which were apparently in good condition, and that when the defendant took possession it was found to be more or less infested with bugs, so that the defendant contended that it was unfit for habitation, and for that reason gave it up, and declined to occupy it. The agreed statement concludes as follows: "If, under the above circumstances, said house was not fit for occupation as a furnished house, and, being let as such, there was an implied agreement or warranty that the said house and furniture therein should be fit for use and occupation, judgment is to be for the defendant, with costs. If, however, under said circumstances, said house was fit for occupation as a furnished house, or there was no such implied agreement or warranty, judgment is to be for the plaintiffs in the sum of $500, with interest from the date of the writ, and costs." Judgment was ordered for the defendant, and the plaintiffs appealed to this court.

The agreement of record shows that the facts were to be treated by the superior court as evidence from which inferences of fact might be drawn. The only "matter of law apparent on the record" which can be considered as an appeal in a case of this kind is the question whether the judgment is warranted by the evidence. Pub.St. c. 152, § 10; Rand v Hanson, 154 Mass. ----, 28 N.E. 6; Mayhew v Durfee, 138 Mass. 584; Railroad Co. v. Wilder, 137 Mass. 536; Hecht v. Batcheller, 147 Mass. 335 17 N.E. 651; Fitzsimmons v. Carroll, 128 Mass. 401; Charlton v. Donnell, 100 Mass. 229. The facts agreed warrant a finding that the house was unfit for habitation when it was hired, and we are therefore brought directly to the question whether there was an implied agreement on the part of the plaintiff that it was in a proper condition for immediate use as a dwelling house. It is well settled, both in this commonwealth and in England, that one who lets an unfurnished building to be occupied as a dwelling house does not impliedly agree that it is fit for habitation. Dutton v. Gerrish, 9 Cush. 89; Foster v. Peyser, Id. 242; Stevens v. Pierce, 151 Mass. 207, 23 N.E. 1006; Sutton v. Temple, 12 Mees. & W. 52; Hart v. Windsor, Id. 68. In the absence of fraud or a covenant, the purchaser of real estate, or the hirer of it for a term, however short, takes it as it is, and determines for himself whether it will serve the purpose for which he wants it. He may, and often does, contemplate making extensive repairs upon it to adapt it to his wants. But there are good reasons why a different rule should apply to one who hires a furnished room, or a furnished house, for a few days, or a few weeks or months. Its fitness for immediate use of a particular kind, as indicated by its appointments, is a far more important element entering into the contract than when there is a mere lease of real estate. One who lets for a short term a house provided with all furnishings and appointments for immediate residence may be supposed to contract in reference to a well-understood purpose of the hirer to use it as a habitation. An important part of...

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