Benschoter v. Hakes, No. 46118.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMULRONEY
Citation8 N.W.2d 481,232 Iowa 1354
Docket NumberNo. 46118.
Decision Date16 March 1943
PartiesBENSCHOTER et al. v. HAKES.

232 Iowa 1354
8 N.W.2d 481

BENSCHOTER et al.
v.
HAKES.

No. 46118.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

March 16, 1943.


Appeal from District Court, Kossuth County; F. C. Davidson, Judge.

Petition in equity to quiet title to farm land against defendant who claimed rights under a lease and failure to give notice of its termination under section 10161, Code of Iowa 1939. The trial court dismissed defendant's answer upon motion. After electing to stand on the pleading, defendant appealed.

Reversed.

BLISS, WENNERSTRUM, and SMITH, JJ., dissenting.

[8 N.W.2d 483]

Hutchison & Hutchison, of Algona, and Carl J. Stephens and Ben C. Buckingham, both of Des Moines, for appellant.

Linnan & Lynch, of Algona, for appellees.


MULRONEY, Justice.

Plaintiffs' petition in a quieting title action alleged that they were the owners of 154 acres of farm land in which the defendant claimed some interest by virtue of a lease. The lease, attached to the petition, showed that the Lincoln Joint Stock Land Bank of Lincoln, Nebraska, had, on September 26, 1940, leased the land to defendant until February 28, 1942. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant claimed an interest over and above her right to possession until the expiration date of said lease.

The defendant's answer admitted the allegations of the petition and alleged her right of tenancy until March 1, 1943, by virtue of a failure to give her notice of the termination of the lease on or before November 1, 1941, as provided in section 10161 of the 1939 Code of Iowa.

Plaintiffs moved to dismiss the answer on the ground that section 10161 has no application to the facts as alleged in plaintiffs' petition and, if said section attempts to extend the termination date of the written lease beyond the date fixed therein, then the statute is unconstitutional as violative of sections 1, 9, 21 and 24 of Article I of the Constitution of Iowa and section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The trial court sustained the motion and, upon defendant's election to stand on the pleading, entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs.

I. The first proposition argued by counsel for appellee is that section 10161 of the 1939 Code of Iowa has no application where there is a written lease for a definite period; that, properly construed, this section only applies to tenancies at will and not to tenancies created by a lease for a fixed term.

In support of their argument, counsel for appellees trace the legislative history of section 10161, Code of 1939. This section provides as follows: “Agreement for termination. Where an agreement is made fixing the time of the termination of the tenancy, whether in writing or not, it shall cease at the time agreed upon, without notice. In the case of farm tenants, except mere croppers, occupying and cultivating an acreage of forty acres or more, the tenancy shall continue for the following crop year upon the same terms and conditions as the original lease unless written notice for termination is given by either party to the other not later than November 1, whereupon the tenancy shall terminate March 1 following; provided further, the tenancy shall not continue because of absence of notice in case there be default in the performance of the existing rental agreement.”

The second sentence in the above section is the amendment of chapter 235, Acts of the Forty-eighth General Assembly. The first sentence is the way the section read prior to the amendment. The history of this law prior to the amendment shows that section 1209 of the Code of 1851 provided for the notice necessary for the termination of a tenancy at will. The Seventh General Assembly repealed section 1209, Code of 1851 and substituted therefor an act which took effect July 4, 1858, which provided as follows: “Section 2218. (1.) Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Iowa, That section 1209, chapter 78 of the code be so far amended as to read as follows: Thirty days' notice in writing is necessary to be given by either party, before he or she can terminate a tenancy at will; but when in any case rent is reserved, payable at intervals of less than thirty days, the length of notice need not be greater than such interval between the days of payment. In case of tenants occupying and cultivating farms, the notice must fix the termination of the tenancy, to take place on the first day of March: provided, that where an express agreement is made, whether the same has been reduced to writing or not, the tenancy shall cease at the time agreed upon, without notice.”

Thereafter, in the codes of 1873 and 1897 and in the Compiled Code of 1919, the provision for the termination of the tenancy without notice, where there is an agreement for termination, appeared in substantially the same language in the statutes providing generally for notice for termination of tenancies at will. The Fortieth General Assembly passed an act to “amend, revise and codify” the entire chapter entitled “Landlord and Tenant” as it appeared in the Compiled Code of 1919. (40th G.A., Chapter 238). This act took the provision for termination without notice, where there was such an agreement from the body

[8 N.W.2d 484]

of the general statute as it appeared in the compiled code and set it forth as a separate provision, or section 6, which reads as follows: “Sec. 6. Agreement for termination-effect. Where an agreement is made fixing the time of the termination of the tenancy, whether in writing or not, it shall cease at the time agreed upon, without notice.”

Thereafter in the codes of 1924, 1927, 1931, and 1935 this law, eliminating the necessity for notice to terminate a tenancy where there was an agreement for such termination, appears as a separate law, being section 10161 in all of said codes.

This is the legislative history down to the amendment of chapter 235 Acts of the Forty-eighth General Assembly. Counsel argues that this history shows conclusively that section 10161 as it appeared in the code of 1935 and prior codes applied only to termination of tenancies at will. From this conclusion counsel argues that the amendment only provides for the notice where the law before amendment eliminated the necessity of notices, namely, tenancies at will with an agreement for the termination date. Counsel cites the case of Jones v. Mills County, 224 Iowa 1375, 279 N.W. 96;Dennis v. Independent School Dist., 166 Iowa 744, 148 N.W. 1007, 1009, and several other cases announcing the rule which is stated in the last cited case to be as follows: “It is a rule of construction that changes made by a revision of the statutes will not be construed as altering the law, unless it is clear that such was the intention, and, if the revised statute is ambiguous or susceptible of two constructions, reference may be had to prior statutes for the purpose of ascertaining the intent of the Legislature.”

We agree with this rule. It is significant here, however, that the division into a separate section was done by a specific act of the Fortieth General Assembly. The cases cited by counsel where the separation was made by code commissioners or code editors therefore do not apply. Is this statute, section 10161 of the 1935 code which stems from the specific act of the Fortieth General Assembly (section 6 chapter 238, Acts of the Fortieth General Assembly) ambiguous or susceptible of two constructions? We think not. It is clear and definite.

The argument that this section only applied to tenancies at will is weakened by an analysis of the effect of such a limited application. The law deals with agreements for termination of tenancies. A tenancy at will negatives any such agreement for termination. A tenancy at will with an agreement for a termination date is a paradox. If there is an agreement for a termination of the tenancy, then it is a tenancy for a term and not a tenancy at will.

But whatever doubts exist as to scope of the application of section 10161, as it appeared before the amendment in the 1935 code, are all cleared up by the passage of chapter 235, Acts of the Forty-eighth General Assembly. This amendment was Senate File 203 in the Forty-eighth General Assembly and it was entitled an act to amend section 10161, code of 1935 “relating to the termination of agricultural leases.” (Italics ours). Here is a legislative interpretation of section 10161 as it stood in the code of 1935. The legislature is now providing for notices that must be given to terminate “agricultural leases” and it directs its amendment to the very statute that provides for no notice where there is an agreement for the termination date. It seems clear that, by this amendment, the legislature intended to include term leases. The effect is to leave the law allowing termination without notice applicable to urban leases and all leases other than farm leases, but in the case of farm leases except those conveying cropper rights and those conveying less than 40 acres, the notice by November 1st must be given.

Additional proof of the legislature's intent, not to confine the operation of this statute to tenancies at will, is furnished by the record of the introduction of an amendment to that effect. This amendment, as shown by the Senate Journal of the Forty-eighth General Assembly, provided only for notice to terminate tenancies at will. The amendment was not adopted. The construction placed upon section 10161 as it stood in the 1935 code at the time of the amendment is controlling. It is the amendment of Chapter 235, Acts of the Forty-eighth General Assembly that provides for the notice that appellees did not give. If the Forty-eighth General Assembly gave section 10161, as it appeared in the 1935 code, its apparent interpretation, without reference to its legislative history, and proceeded to amend it, then it is the duty of this court to interpret the statute as a whole and we

[8 N.W.2d 485]

are concerned with the legislative intent of the Forty-eighth...

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30 practice notes
  • State v. Buck
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • 21 Octubre 1953
    ...and intended that O.C.L.A. § 23-408, as written, should remain unchanged. See Goff v. Hunt, 6 N.J. 600, 80 A.2d 104; Benschoter v. Hakes, 232 Iowa 1354, 8 N.W.2d 481; Burdett v. Municipal Employees, etc., Newark, 129 N.J.L. 70, 28 A.2d 93; State ex rel. Ortlip v. Du Pont, 3 Terry 540, 42 De......
  • Johnson v. American Leather Specialties Corp., No. C06-3073-MWB.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • 29 Septiembre 2008
    ...id. (citing Gibb v. Hansen, 286 N.W.2d 180, 186 (Iowa 1979); May's Drug Stores, 242 Iowa at 329, 45 N.W.2d at 250; Benschoter v. Hakes, 232 Iowa 1354, 1361, 8 N.W.2d 481, 485 (1943); State v. Osborne, 171 Iowa 678, 693, 154 N.W. 294, 300 Atwood, 725 N.W.2d at 652; accord Midwest Check Cashi......
  • Iowa Natural Resources Council v. Van Zee, No. 52931
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 9 Abril 1968
    ...power' depends upon whether the collective benefit therefrom outweighs the specific restraint imposed thereby. Benschoter v. Hakes, 232 Iowa 1354, 8 N.W.2d 481. The means used must be rationally related to the end sought. Pierce v. Incorporated Town of La Porte City, 259 Iowa 1120, 146 N.W.......
  • Sperry & Hutchinson Co. v. Hoegh, No. 48475
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 26 Julio 1954
    ...include also at least the promotion of the general welfare, prosperity, comfort and convenience. [246 Iowa 28] See Benschoter v. Hakes, 232 Iowa 1354, 1362, 8 N.W.2d 481, 486, Mulroney, J.; State v. Woitha, supra, 227 Iowa 1, 7, 8, 287 N.W. 99, 102, 123 A.L.R. 884 ("What was at one time reg......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • State v. Buck
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • 21 Octubre 1953
    ...and intended that O.C.L.A. § 23-408, as written, should remain unchanged. See Goff v. Hunt, 6 N.J. 600, 80 A.2d 104; Benschoter v. Hakes, 232 Iowa 1354, 8 N.W.2d 481; Burdett v. Municipal Employees, etc., Newark, 129 N.J.L. 70, 28 A.2d 93; State ex rel. Ortlip v. Du Pont, 3 Terry 540, 42 De......
  • Johnson v. American Leather Specialties Corp., No. C06-3073-MWB.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • 29 Septiembre 2008
    ...id. (citing Gibb v. Hansen, 286 N.W.2d 180, 186 (Iowa 1979); May's Drug Stores, 242 Iowa at 329, 45 N.W.2d at 250; Benschoter v. Hakes, 232 Iowa 1354, 1361, 8 N.W.2d 481, 485 (1943); State v. Osborne, 171 Iowa 678, 693, 154 N.W. 294, 300 Atwood, 725 N.W.2d at 652; accord Midwest Check Cashi......
  • Iowa Natural Resources Council v. Van Zee, No. 52931
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 9 Abril 1968
    ...power' depends upon whether the collective benefit therefrom outweighs the specific restraint imposed thereby. Benschoter v. Hakes, 232 Iowa 1354, 8 N.W.2d 481. The means used must be rationally related to the end sought. Pierce v. Incorporated Town of La Porte City, 259 Iowa 1120, 146 N.W.......
  • Sperry & Hutchinson Co. v. Hoegh, No. 48475
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 26 Julio 1954
    ...include also at least the promotion of the general welfare, prosperity, comfort and convenience. [246 Iowa 28] See Benschoter v. Hakes, 232 Iowa 1354, 1362, 8 N.W.2d 481, 486, Mulroney, J.; State v. Woitha, supra, 227 Iowa 1, 7, 8, 287 N.W. 99, 102, 123 A.L.R. 884 ("What was at one time reg......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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