Seeing red over yellow
Runnymede wins colorful landlord vs. tenant case
By Phillip Newswanger, Inside Business – Hampton Roads,
The building was painted bright yellow with red trim.
The colors so horrified a doctor that he called the Runnymede Corp. to complain.
We were appalled, said Morris Fine of the law firm of Fine, Fine, Legum & McCracken LLP. Fine represented
Even the presiding Supreme Court judge who wrote the opinion was appalled after seeing before and after photographs of the building.
What once had the appearance of a stately stone building has been given the mark of crass commercialism, which can only be erased with the expenditure of a significant sum of money, wrote Senior Justice Harry Carrico in his opinion.
Select Management asked that the building remain painted until its lease expired, which will be in two years.
Instead of complying, Select Management filed suit in Chesapeake Circuit Court, arguing that all of its 200 loan offices in the country, including 24 in
Select Management also took the position that the color scheme resembled that of nearby buildings, including McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Jiffy Lube and Rallys.
The lower court ruled in favor of
But the before and after photographs were worth more than a thousand words, at least to Carrico, who ruled in favor of Runnymede April 20.
L. Steven Emmert, an appellate lawyer with the law firm of Sykes, Bourdon, Ahern & Levy PC, said the Virginia Supreme Courts ruling gives the landlord more control over the premises they rent.
Emmert focuses his practice on appeals and monitors the courts rulings. He runs a Web site tagged Virginia Appellate News & Analysis.
Although Emmert questioned whether the issue would have mushroomed if the building had been painted a muted gray with a blue trim, he maintained that the tenant has a responsibility to the landlord.
Tenants will have to be more careful about making structural changes to the property, Emmert said. Get the landlords consent and never see the inside of a court room. The safest thing to do is involve the landlord.
Fine said there were few cases that ever dealt with a painting, per se, to the exterior of the building.
I think the court was surprised, said Fine, who in 52 years of practicing law has rarely encountered such a case.
Carrico agreed with Select Management that, ordinarily, the painting of the exterior of the building is merely cosmetic in nature and not an alteration in the legal sense.
But this is not an ordinary situation, Carrico wrote. Here, the trial judge would have needed to take only one look at the graphic before and after photographs of the building to find that the change caused by the painting was substantial, not trifling, resulting in a change in the nature and character of the building.
Fine said the court considered the case on whether
You did it without permission, so how could you have permission? Fine said.
Select Management could not be reached for comment. The company has a five-year lease with
Select Management did remove the paint, but that hasnt swayed Fine.
We would like them out of there, he said.