Lockett v. Blue Ocean Bristol, LLCAnnotate this Case
Respondent decided not to renew the lease of Petitioner, a tenant in an apartment building, and filed a tenant holding over action. Petitioner argued that the non-renewal and tenant holding over action were in retaliation for her advocation on behalf of the apartment building’s tenants association. The circuit court ruled in Petitioner’s favor on the question of retaliation but awarded damages for only one of the two alleged acts of retaliation. Specifically, the court found that Petitioner failed to prove that she was current on the rent at the time that she filed her tenant holding over action. The circuit court also declined to award attorneys’ fees to Petitioner. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Petitioner was not ineligible for relief as to the second alleged act of retaliation, as Petitioner’s debts to Respondent other than her fixed monthly amount specified as “rent” in her lease did not factor into whether she was current on the rent for purposes of the anti-retaliation statute; and (2) the circuit court erred in refusing to grant attorney fees without permitting Petitioner an opportunity to submit evidence concerning her entitlement to attorneys’ fees and without explaining how it chose to exercise its discretion.