Wilson v. Ruhl, No. 125

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtSINGLEY
Citation277 Md. 607,356 A.2d 544
PartiesR. Edwin WILSON et ux. v. Sara Ann RUHL.
Decision Date05 May 1976
Docket NumberNo. 125

Page 607

277 Md. 607
356 A.2d 544
R. Edwin WILSON et ux.
v.
Sara Ann RUHL.
No. 125.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
May 5, 1976.

[356 A.2d 545]

Page 608

Gary A. Graham, Baltimore (Graham, Graham & Graham, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellants.

Saunders M. Almond, Jr., Towson, for appellee.

Argued before SINGLEY, SMITH, DIGGES, LEVINE and ELDRIDGE, JJ.

SINGLEY, Judge.

By Chapter 12, § 2 of the Laws of 1974, now codified as Maryland Code (1974), Real Property Article § 8-207, effective 1 July 1974, the General Assembly abrogated the common law rule that a landlord was under no duty to mitigate damages in the event of a breach of the covenants of a residential lease by his tenant. 1

Section 8-207 now provides, in part:

'(a) Duty to mitigate damages.-The aggrieved party in a breach of a lease has a duty to mitigate damages if the damages result from the landlord's or tenants's:

'(1) Failure to supply possession of the dwelling unit;

'(2) Failure or refusal to take possession at the beginning of the term; or

'(3) Termination of occupancy before the end of the term.' (emphasis added).

Page 609

On 18 June 1973, R. Edwin Wilson and Patricia C. Wilson (the Wilsons) leased from Sara Ann Ruhl a residence at 15 Flanders Ridge Court in Baltimore County for a term commencing 15 July 1973 and ending 31 July 1974, at a rental of $345.00 a month. By its terms, the lease would renew itself for another year unless 90 days'[356 A.2d 546] written notice were given prior to the end of the term.

It is conceded that the Wilsons' notice, given on 28 May 1974, was not a timely notice. Upon receiving the Wilsons' notice, Mrs. Ruhl responded, on 14 June 1974, by letter that it was not her responsibility to find a new tenant and that the lease was not assignable nor could the premises be sublet. The Wilsons vacated the premises on 31 July 1974, the July rent having been paid, at which time Mrs. Ruhl held a security deposit of $345.00, equivalent to one month's rent.

On 27 July 1974, Mrs. Ruhl listed the property for sale with the real estate firm of Russell T. Baker & Co., with which she was associated. On 30 September 1974, she listed the property as for sale or for rent, and on 21 October 1974, the property was listed as for rent. Finally, a new tenant was found who took possession on 1 December 1974.

Thereafter, Mrs. Ruhl brought suit against the Wilsons in the District Court for Baltimore County, which entered judgment in Mrs. Ruhl's favor against the Wilsons for $345.00 (the amount of the security deposit) plus $1.00. On appeal to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, that court entered judgment against the Wilsons for $1,035.00, being three months' rent, in addition to the security deposit, or rent for the period 1 August to 30 November 1974.

We granted certiorari in order that we might determine whether Mrs. Ruhl had discharged the duty to mitigate damages imposed upon her by the statute. Under the facts of this case, we conclude that she did not when she initially offered the property for sale, any more than she would have, had she offered the property for rent at a clearly exorbitant rate.

Section 8-207 of the Real Property Article, as we have already noted, abrogated the common law rule that a

Page 610

landlord was under no duty to mitigate his damages upon an abandonment of the premises by the tenant. Precisely stated, this common law rule placed three options before a landlord upon the tenant's abandonment: (1) the landlord could accept the abandonment, by reentry for his own benefit, and thereby effect a surrender which terminated the tenancy altogether; (2) the landlord could reenter the premises for the account of the tenant, attempt to rerent on behalf of the tenant, holding the tenant liable for any accrued rent at the time of the reentry plus any deficiency in the event that the reletting was for a lower rent than the original rental; (3) the landlord could do nothing, holding the tenant liable for the rent for the entire term.

It was the third option which, in effect, was eliminated by § 8-207. The...

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15 practice notes
  • Sommer v. Kridel
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 29, 1977
    ...Ariz.App. 238, 532 P.2d 180 (App.1975); Hirsch v. Merchants National Bank & Trust Co., 336 N.E.2d 833 (Ind.App.1975); Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 356 A.2d 544 (1976) (by statute); Bernstein v. Seglin, 184 Neb. 673, 171 N.W.2d 247 (1969); Lefrak v. Lambert, 89 Misc.2d 197, 390 N.Y.S.2d ......
  • Forty Exchange Co. v. Cohen
    • United States
    • New York City Court
    • July 18, 1984
    ...Gordon v. Consol. Sun Ray, Inc., 195 Kan. 341, 404 P.2d 949 (1965); Marmont v. Axe, 135 Kan. 368, 10 P.2d 826 (1932); Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 356 A.2d 544 (1976); Novak v. Fontaine Furniture Co., 84 N.H. 93, 146 A. 525 (1929); Weinstein v. Griffith, 241 N.C. 161, 84 S.E.2d 549 (1954); ......
  • Circuit City v. Rockville Pike, No. 122
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • August 1, 2003
    ...do nothing and hold the tenant liable for the entire amount of rent payable during the remaining term of the lease. See Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 610, 356 A.2d 544, 546 (1976); see also 3 HERBERT THORNDIKE TIFFANY THE LAW OF REAL PROPERTY § 902 (3d ed.1939 and 2002 In 1974, the Legislatu......
  • Roger E. Herst Revocable Trust v. Blinds To Go (U.S.) Inc., Civil Action No. ELH-10-3226
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • December 20, 2011
    ...allowance, attorney costs, and the cost of the title search. As support for their proration argument, defendants cite Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 356 A.2d 544 (1976). In that case, the Maryland Court of Appeals prorated a broker'sPage 37commission, which a landlord paid to procure a replac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Sommer v. Kridel
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 29, 1977
    ...Ariz.App. 238, 532 P.2d 180 (App.1975); Hirsch v. Merchants National Bank & Trust Co., 336 N.E.2d 833 (Ind.App.1975); Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 356 A.2d 544 (1976) (by statute); Bernstein v. Seglin, 184 Neb. 673, 171 N.W.2d 247 (1969); Lefrak v. Lambert, 89 Misc.2d 197, 390 N.Y.S.2d ......
  • Forty Exchange Co. v. Cohen
    • United States
    • New York City Court
    • July 18, 1984
    ...Gordon v. Consol. Sun Ray, Inc., 195 Kan. 341, 404 P.2d 949 (1965); Marmont v. Axe, 135 Kan. 368, 10 P.2d 826 (1932); Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 356 A.2d 544 (1976); Novak v. Fontaine Furniture Co., 84 N.H. 93, 146 A. 525 (1929); Weinstein v. Griffith, 241 N.C. 161, 84 S.E.2d 549 (1954); ......
  • Circuit City v. Rockville Pike, No. 122
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • August 1, 2003
    ...do nothing and hold the tenant liable for the entire amount of rent payable during the remaining term of the lease. See Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 610, 356 A.2d 544, 546 (1976); see also 3 HERBERT THORNDIKE TIFFANY THE LAW OF REAL PROPERTY § 902 (3d ed.1939 and 2002 In 1974, the Legislatu......
  • Roger E. Herst Revocable Trust v. Blinds To Go (U.S.) Inc., Civil Action No. ELH-10-3226
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • December 20, 2011
    ...allowance, attorney costs, and the cost of the title search. As support for their proration argument, defendants cite Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 356 A.2d 544 (1976). In that case, the Maryland Court of Appeals prorated a broker'sPage 37commission, which a landlord paid to procure a replac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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