Paula C. Murray


Landlord-tenant law has undergone a major change since it was first developed in England in the Middle Ages. During feudal times, the lease was considered a conveyance of real property. The landlord transferred possession of the property and in return the tenant paid rent. The lease covenants existed independently of each other. Thus, if the landlord breached the lease, the tenant was not relieved of his obligation to pay rent. The landlord owed no obligation to the tenant other than the assurance of quiet enjoyment of the property. The tenant bore all the risk of the physical condition of the property--caveat lessee. The tenant could provide for landlord repairs in the lease, but could not withhold rent if the landlord failed to make those repairs. Additionally, the tenant assumed primary responsibility for the condition of the premises once he took possession of the property. Thus, the landlord was not obligated to the tenant or to any third party for injuries resulting from defects in the property.