Leon Landlord owned a duplex in the state of Navasota, which follows the majority common law rules on matters of landlord and tenant law. Leon resided in one unit of the duplex and rented the other unit in the duplex to Teresa Tenant. Leon told Teresa, “you pay me $5,700 for a six month lease. Rent is $950 a month due on the first day of each month. After that, we can agree to go month-to-month.” Teresa agreed to these terms. As part of the lease arrangement, Teresa agreed to mow the lawn and water the flowers and landscaping in exchange for the $50 per month rent discount (normally Leon charged $1,000 a month for the unit). They signed the lease on May 1. Teresa paid the $950 in monthly rent on the first day of the first and second months of the lease (June 1 and July 1).
Two and one-half months after they signed the lease, on July 15th, Leon came home and found the following note taped to his front door:
Leon –
My brother Stanley is a recovering drug addict. He just got out of rehab and has no place to live. I’ve gone to California to get him and bring him here to live with me. My friend Mabel will stay at my place, pay the rent as it comes due for me, and take care of things around my place while I’m away.
Shortly after Teresa left, a summer heat wave struck the area. Mabel paid the rent of $950 to Leon on the first day of the third month of the lease (August 1). Mabel failed, however, to water the landscaping and the flowers. When Leon asked Mabel when she would water the landscaping and the flowers, Mabel said, “That’s not my problem.” Disgusted, Leon watered the landscaping in the flowers himself. When Mabel tried to pay the monthly rent of $950 on the first day of the fourth month after the original lease began, Leon refused a check, saying, “That’s not enough. It’s $1,000 because I had to do the watering.” When Mabel refused to pay Leon $1,000, Leon turned off the water to Teresa’s unit (the controls were in Leon’s side of the duplex). Mabel complained to Leon, “You know, I can’t live here without any running water.” Leon replied, “You’ll get water when I get $1,000.” Mabel retorted, “That’s it! I am gone for good!” Mabel packed her things and left. Leon began advertising the unit as “For Rent” in the local paper.
When Teresa returned with her brother Stanley one week later, she found her unit lacked running water. Teresa confronted Leon, who told Teresa that he would restore the water only if she paid $1,000 for the monthly rent, paid an additional $1,000 as a damages deposit “for that addict brother of yours,” and paid $250 “to replace my dried up flowers and shrubs.” Teresa refused to pay, saying “That’s it, my lease just terminated.” Six months later, Leon found another tenant for Teresa’s unit, who moved in exactly nine months after Leon and Teresa’s original lease commenced.
Leon has come to you for legal advice. Leon wants to be compensated for the rent he lost prior to reletting the unit. He also wants to recover the $250 he spent to replace his damage landscaping. How much can Leon recover in damages against Teresa or Mabel? What counterclaims may be brought against Leon if he sues Teresa or Mabel?