Crain’s Chicago Business reports that a Naperville couple has filed a lawsuit against the Four Seasons in Chicago due to the unacceptable ‘uninhabitable‘ rooms they rented for $27,000 per month for one year. They are seeking in excess of $400,000 in damages, including allegations of unauthorized credit card charges by the hotel.

Rajeeve Rai and his wife, Shrunali Rai, of Naperville, Illinois (a major Chicago suburb) rented three one-bedroom apartments with their two children at the famous, high-end Michigan Avenue luxury hotel while their home was under construction. Crain’s reports the lawsuit makes factual allegations including:

  • “strong, unpleasant odors”
  • broken toilet that flooded an apartment
  • dirty carpet
  • “rotting” wallpaper
  • “broken windows”
  • “flying insects and vermin”
  • and… no Internet connection

Further claims include damage done to their vehicles by the hotel valets and damages caused to Mr. Rai’s character when Chicago Police were called when the family’s departure turned into a shouting match, including the hotel stated he was responsible for $120,000 due to the hotel, according to Crain’s report.

With the claims for damages, defamation, etc. aside, let’s talk: “constructive eviction”  That is when the roles are reversed, in a way, from what you traditionally think of an eviction. Here, the tenant is forced to vacate the leased property because of certain conditions of the premises.

Constructive eviction may be a defense of a tenant for the landlord’s breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, and occurs when the landlord does “something of a grave and permanent character with the intention of depriving the tenant of enjoyment of the premises.” A tenant also may claim a breach of an implied warranty of tenantability, i.e. the premises are not tenantable if “the interference with occupancy is of such a nature that the property cannot be used for the purpose for which it was rented.”

In addition to meeting these elements of constructive eviction, a tenant must plead and prove that the landlord was given a reasonable opportunity to remedy the problem, and, if the issue is not resolved, the tenant must vacate the premises within a reasonable time; otherwise, the tenant may be deemed to have waived the breach of covenant.

Crain’s reporter Shia Kapos peels back some significant legal history involving the same Mr. Rai:

“Seven years ago, Mr. Rai’s father was sentenced to life in prison without parole in Georgia for hiring a hit man in 2000 to kill Mr. Rai’s first wife, Sparkle Michelle Rai, for $10,000. Chiman Rai, Rajeeve’s father and a native of India, didn’t approve of his son’s marriage to the African-American woman, the mother of Rajeeve’s daughter. He hired the hit man, who brutally killed the 22-year-old woman, with the couple’s infant daughter in the apartment. Rajeeve Rai found his wife when he returned home and called the police.

The case languished before an accomplice talked about the murder and Chiman Rai’s involvement was revealed. The murderer is on death row. Sparkle Rai’s father and stepmother adopted the couple’s daughter. Mr. Rai moved to Chicago soon after the murder to attend Northwestern University and to build a new life.”


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