Landlords and Tenants - Rent, 1823

The laws regarding Landlords and tenants, like almost every other branch of our civil code are very voluminous, but their leading features may be condensed into a narrow compass. In all contracts between a landlord or tenant the spirit of the agreement is, that the former shall give to the latter quiet enjoyment of his premises, in return for which the tenant agrees to pay a stipulated rent, at such periods as shall be agreed upon by the parties.

When the rent becomes due, it is indispensable, before the landlord can re-enter the premises, that he should demand the rent from the tenant, unless the necessity for such demand has been waived by express agreement, and unless, by statute 4, Geo. II. cap. 28 sec. 2, where six months rent is in arrears, and there is not sufficient property on the premises. The legal remedy for arrears of rent is a distress, and a distress is itself a demand, but on the rent being tendered, the distress must be withdrawn, and the tenant may remain in possession. Rent is demandable and payable at any time before sun-set, on the day on which it is made payable, so that there be light enough for the landlord to count it by. A tender of rent should be at the time and place where it is made payable, and in the current coin of the kingdom; but it has been determined that a tender in bank of England notes is good, by statute 52 Geo. III. If no particular place is mentioned in the lease contract where rent is to be paid, it must be tendered on the land or in the house or room for which it issued. By the act of 3O Geo. II. c. 2, sec. 15, tenants are required to pay such sums of money as may he rated on the premises, and to deduct an much of the same out of their rents as the landlord ought to have paid, so that the land-tax receipts may now be tendered as part payment of rent. A landlord accepting the last quarter or half year's rent where there are former arrears, precludes himself from demanding the arrears; and it is held that no proof will be admitted to shew that they are unpaid. --Acceptance of single rent is a waiver of double rent, by statute 4 Geo. II. c. 28. If a tenant holding under two tenants in common pay the whole rent to one, after notice from the other not to pay it, the other tenant in common may distrain for his share. By the statute 8 Ann, c. 14, no goods upon any tenement can be taken in execution, until the party at whose suit the execution is sued out shall, before the goods are removed, pay to the landlord of the premises one years rent, or as much rent as is due, not exceeding one year. Rent in arrears may be recovered, 1st by action at law; 2nd, by distress on the premises; and 3rd, by ejectment.

A tenant from year to year is entitled to half a year's notice, which must expire at the same time of the year as that on which the tenancy commenced -if a house or land be taken from Midsummer to Midsummer, the notice to quit must be given at Christmas, so as to expire at the next Mid. summer. By the 4 Geo. II. c. 28, if any tenant for life or years shall wilfully hold premises after the termination of the term, and after demand made, and notice by writing given for delivering the possession thereof, he shall, for the tern of such detention, pay after the rate of double the yearly value thereof. In order to charge a tenant with double rent, under this act, notice must be given to him to quit at the expiration of his term; but the tenant may be ejected at the end of his lease, without any previous notice to quit, as he cannot but be apprized of the expiration of the term. A parole notice to quit by a tenant on a parole lease, is good notice within the meaning of the statute.

With respect to lodgings, if they are taken for a less term than a year certain, any reasonable notice to quit is sufficient. What is considered a reasonable notice depends in some degree upon the nature of the tenure. In London, if no particular notice is mentioned, it is generally understood that a week's notice shall be given if the apartments be taken by the week; and a month's notice if taken by the month, but if taken for a week or a month, or any other time certain, no notice is expected or required, it being necessarily implied that when the period for which they were taken arrives, the tenant is to depart, unless he enters into some fresh agreement.

Where a notice is required by law to be given either to a landlord or a tenant it is generally sufficient to leave it at the dwelling house of the person on whom it is served.

If a lessor covenant to repair a house, but do not, the lessee may do it, and with-hold as much of the rent as will pay himself. Where a house is blown down by a tempest the law excuses the lessee, unless there is a covenant to repair and uphold. If a lessee covenant to pay rent, and to repair, with express exception of casualties by fire, he is liable upon the covenant for rent, though the premises are burnt down, and not rebuilt by the lessor, after notice. Removing wainscots, floors, windows, and other things once fixed to the freehold of a house, is a waste, and punishable accordingly. The fixtures put up by a tenant may be removed; and vats, coppers, tables, partitions, &c. for the convenience of trade, if purchased or fixed by the tenant, may also be removed by him; but it must be before the expiration of his term.

In taking a house on lease, it is necessary that a tenant should carefully examine the covenants in the original lease, and those in the under lease, if any; or he may possibly discover, when too late, that he is tied down by such restrictions, as to render the premises unfit for his purpose, or likely to involve him in difficulties. He should see that the rent reserved in the original lease and all taxes are paid up to the time he commences possession: for if they are not he must pay the arrears, and can only recover them by having recourse to the last tenant. Equal caution is necessary in taking unfurnished lodgings, for if the rent of the house be in arrears, either then or at any subsequent period, the furniture of the lodger, being upon the premises, will be liable to be seized.

A covenant to repair and deliver up premises at the end of a term extends to erections made during the demise, as well as to those in being at the time when the contract was made. Where a tenant covenants to keep a house in repair, and leaves it in as good condition as he found it, he is not answerable for the natural and inevitable decay on the premises; and though the tenant in covenant to keep in repair and yet suffers them to go to decay, still no action will lie till the end of the term, because he may repair before his term expires.

An action will lie against a tenant for not using the land he rents in a husbandlike manner, even though there is no covenant to that effect. In a covenant to use land in a husbandlike manner, the tenant is to use on the land all the manure made there; except that, when his time is out, he may carry away such corn and straw as he may not have used, and is not obliged to bring back the manure produced by it. In equity, a tenant may be restrained from converting pasture into arable land, though there is no express covenant against it. He may also be restrained from breaking up ancient meadow.

The assignment of a lease must he by deed or note in writing, signed by the party assigning. It is not necessary to be scaled or delivered, but it must be stamped. -Executors and administrators are assignees in law, and are therefore liable to perform all such covenant of their testators or intestates, being lessees, as runs with the land, though the deceased covenanted for himself and assigns only, and not for his executors and administrators.

Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©1995 from
"A History, Directory & Gazetteer, of the County of York"
by Edward Baines (1823)

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