Hamel property owner sues over broken lease agreement

Kelly Holleran Nov. 1, 2011, 8:19am

The owner of a Hamel property alleges his tenant dishonored his lease agreement, leaving the owner stuck with more than $40,000 in costs.

Anthony J. Kemper filed a lawsuit Oct. 25 in Madison County Circuit Court against Jeffrey Cummings.

In his complaint, Kemper claims he was forced to incur clean-up costs of nearly $2,000 and lost the potential for rental payments of more than $34,000 after Cummings suddenly moved out of Kemper's Hamel home in July.

Kemper claims he agreed to rent his property at 408 Marty Graten Ct. to Cummings beginning on May 1, 2010, for $1,850 per month. The original lease term was set to expire by Oct. 31, 2010, according to the complaint.

In November, Kemper agreed to extend the lease term on a month-to-month basis, despite the fact that his client had never made a payment on time throughout the initial six-month lease, the suit states.

Again, Cummings failed to timely remit his monthly rent payments throughout the month-to-month lease, the complaint says. Still, Kemper claims he agreed to rent the property to Cummings for a two-year term from March 1 to Feb. 13, 2013.

Under the second lease agreement, Cummings agreed to pay $1,500 per month for the first year and $2,000 per month for the second year, according to the complaint.

"Mr. Kemper agreed to lower Defendant's rent from $1,850 to $1,500 during the first year of Lease Agreement #2, in reliance on Defendant's agreement to the two-year lease term and structured the agreement to allow a later rent increase in the second year of the lease term based on Defendant's professed financial difficulties in the spring of 2011," the suit states.

Cummings paid his rental payments in March, April and May, but failed to make any payments in June and July, the complaint says.

Kemper claims he was notified via text message of Cummings's decision to move out on July 31, which violated the lease agreement. Cummings also told Kemper to apply his damage deposit of $2,000 toward his missed rental payments, although the damage deposit clearly did not apply toward rent, according to the complaint.

When he learned of Cummings's decision, Kemper asked Cummings to meet him for a walk-through at 3 p.m. on July 31. However, at around 1 p.m., Cummings texted Kemper to tell him that he had already left the property, the suit states.

When Kemper arrived at the property, he was shocked to see its "deplorable" condition, the complaint says.

"The premises had clearly not been cleaned prior to Defendant's departure, as both the carpet and tile floors were filthy; the walls of nearly every room were obviously dirty, marked and exhibited holes far larger than those necessary for hanging pictures; and the lawn was poorly kept with weeds growing up through the landscaping," the suit states. "The total cost of cleaning, painting and necessary yard care to return the Premises to a reasonably presentable condition is approximately $1,950."

In addition to the dirty state of the property, Kemper claims he found the front door smashed in, costing him $1,825; cracked wooden baseboards throughout the property, costing him $50; a partially dismembered backyard fence that cost him $100; and several broken or missing downspouts that cost him $25.

In his complaint, Kemper alleges Cummings breached his lease agreement, causing Kemper to lose rental income of $34,500. In addition, Cummings owes Kemper $1,500 in late fees, repair costs of $3,950 and $1,050 for the three months that he paid $350 less in rent than he was charged.

In addition to the money he says Cummings owes him, Kemper seeks costs, fees and other relief the court deems just.

Ryan A. Kemper of Stinson, Morrison and Hecker in St. Louis will be representing Kemper.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-1095.

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