First-Citizens Bank & Trust Co. v. Frazelle

Citation40 S.E.2d 367,226 N.C. 724
Decision Date20 November 1946
Docket Number383
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina

40 S.E.2d 367

226 N.C. 724


No. 383

Supreme Court of North Carolina

November 20, 1946

[40 S.E.2d 368] [Copyrighted Material Omitted] [40 S.E.2d 369]

[226 N.C. 725] Civil action instituted 3 November, 1945, to enforce specific performance of an option to purchase certain real property described in a lease dated 7 November, 1936, and executed by and between U. W. Mills and First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company, and duly recorded in the office of the register of deeds of Onslow County, 21 December, 1936.

[226 N.C. 726] The pertinent parts of the lease and option are as follows:

'The life of this lease is for one year with the privilege granted for said party of the second part, or its assignee to extend said lease for one year at its expiration; said privileges to continue in force for nine successive years; said lease to date from the occupation of the property by the party of the second part.

'The party of the first part hereby gives to the party of the second part the right, or option, to purchase said property at any time during the life of this lease, or any extension thereof, for the sum of $10,000.

'Upon notice in writing from the party of the second part to the party of the first part that said party of the second part desires to exercise right to purchase said property the rent paid monthly stops at the end of the current rental month. Party of the first part hereby agrees to execute and deliver a deed in fee conveying the property clear of all encumbrances to the party of the second part. The party of the second part agrees to pay the purchase price upon receipt of said deed.'

The lease does not purport to bind the heirs and assigns of U. W. Mills.

U. W. Mills died intestate on 12 December, 1941, leaving the defendant Annie Lee Frazelle, his daughter, as his sole surviving heir.

C. R. Frazelle, husband of Annie Lee Frazelle, is the duly qualified and acting administrator of the estate of U. W. Mills.

The plaintiff has continued to occupy the leased premises and to pay the agreed rental each month, and since the death of U. W. Mills the monthly rental payments have been made to the administrator of his estate. The defendant Annie Lee Frazelle knew the rent was being paid to her husband, as administrator, of the estate of U. W. Mills.

The plaintiff notified defendants in writing of its intention to exercise the option contained in the lease, and requested the defendants to execute a deed in compliance therewith, but the defendants refused to comply with the request. Whereupon this action was instituted and the sum of $10,000.00 deposited with the Court.

At the close of plaintiff's evidence, defendants moved for judgment as of nonsuit. Motion allowed and plaintiff appeals assigning errors.

Warlick & Ellis, of Jacksonville, for plaintiff.

J. A. Jones and Albert W. Cowper, both of Kinstan, for defendants.

DENNY, Justice.

This appeal presents four questions for our determination. 1. Was the option to purchase the premises described in the lease, in effect when the plaintiff notified the defendants of its election to purchase the property? 2. Did the failure of U. W. Mills to expressly bind his heirs and assigns in the lease, make its terms unenforceable [226 N.C. 727] against his sole surviving heir? 3. Did payment of the rent to the personal representative of U. W. Mills and not to the heir at law, from 1941 until the institution of this action, invalidate the lease? 4. Was tender of the purchase price necessary under the evidence disclosed on this record?

We think the first question must be answered in the affirmative and the others in the negative.

The defendants contend the lease is ambiguous in its provisions relating to the renewals. It is the law, however, that in construing provisions of a lease relating to renewals, where there is any uncertainty, the tenant is favored and not the landlord. Taylor's Landlord and Tenant (9th ed.), Sec. 81; Warren v. Breedlove, 219 N.C. 383, 14 S.E.2d 43; Winston-Salem Masonic Temple Co. v. Union Guano Co., 162 N.C. 87, 77 S.E. 1106; 32 Amer.Jur. Sec. 962, p. 809. Moreover, we think it is clear that this [40 S.E.2d 370] lease was for one year with the privilege of renewing it from year to year for nine successive years.

The defendants take the position that since there is no evidence that the plaintiff notified the lessor or his surviving heir at any time of its intention to renew the lease, the lease expired at the end of the...

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7 cases
  • Kidd v. Early, 69
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • 2 Marzo 1976 accept the offer contained in the option, but his right of acceptance continues during the option period. See Trust Co. v. Frazelle, 226 N.C. 724, 40 S.E.2d 367 (1946); 7 Strong's N.C. Index 2d Vendor and Purchaser § 2 (1968); 91 C.J.S. Vendor and Purchaser § 4 (1955). To hold that an op......
  • Kutkowski v. Princeville Prince Golf Course, LLC, 28826.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Hawai'i
    • 20 Marzo 2012 pay separate monthly charge specifically for the option); 289 P.3d 994128 Hawai'i 358 First–Citizens Bank & Trust Co. v. Frazelle, 226 N.C. 724, 40 S.E.2d 367, 370 (1946) (lease construed to be in force where tenant had option to renew and no formal notice of renewal required; option to ......
  • Moore v. Maes, 16188.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 3 Marzo 1949
    ...A.2d 775, 163 A.L.R. 706. To the same effect is Rubin v. Gochrach, 186 Va. 786, 44 S.E.2d 1; First-Citizens Bank & Trust Co. v. Frazelle, 226 N.C. 724, 40 S.E.2d 367; Meadow Heights Country Club v. Hinckley, 229 Mich. 291, 201 N.W. 190. We think under the terms of the lease entered into bet......
  • Crowder v. Com., Dept. of Welfare and Institutions, 5271
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 8 Septiembre 1961
    ...payment was not necessary to the exercise of the option. 55 Am. Jur., Vendor and Purchaser, § 41, p. 511; First-Citizens Bank v. Frazelle, 226 N.C. 724, 40 S.E.2d 367; Parker v. Murphy, 152 Va. 173, 146 S.E. 254. See also Anno. 101 A.L.R. 1432, et As aforesaid, the Commonwealth had a reason......
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