Robertson v. Biddell

Decision Date15 June 1893
Citation13 So. 358,32 Fla. 304
PartiesROBERTSON v. BIDDELL.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Appeal from circuit court, Orange county; John D. Broome, Judge.

Action by Virginia P. Robertson against George W. Biddell to recover rent. Defendant had judgment, and plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

1. The general rule is that in actions for rent the tenant will not be permitted to question or impeach the landlord's title so long as he holds the possession originally derived from him; but this principle does not forbid the tenant from showing, by way of defense in such cases, that the landlord's title has expired, or has been terminated or extinguished by his own act or by operation of law. The tenant cannot dispute the title of the landlord so long as it remains as it was at the time the tenancy commenced; but he may show that the title under which he entered has expired or been extinguished.

2. Where the plaintiff, in a few days after putting the defendant, as tenant, in possession of the premises, and receiving a month's rent in advance, sells the property to the defendant tenant's wife, delivering a well-defined contract of sale, and, after receiving part of the purchase price, refunds to the defendant, because of such sale, most of the rent paid in advance, and notifies another cotenant on the premises to attorn to the defendant's wife, such acts are tantamount to a surrender by the landlord of his possession to the defendant's wife as his vendee, and he cannot revest himself with the right to such surrendered possession against his vendee's consent, and without default on the vendee's part, without first getting rid in some legitimate way, of his contract of sale. His arbitrary revocation of such contract of sale, or refusal to carry it out, and demand for possession or rents, could not of itself, in the absence of default on the vendee's part, reclothe him with the right to the possession of the premises or to rents therefrom, until the rights of his vendee under such contract of purchase had been properly disposed of and determined; and, in a suit by such landlord against his vendee's husband for rents accruing after such sale, the defendant husband can properly set up such sale to his wife by way of defense.

COUNSEL William H. Jewell, for appellant.

C. F Alars, for appellee.

OPINION

TAYLOR J.

The appellant sued the appellee in the circuit court for Orange county by the summary remedy provided in sections 2, 3, 4 pp. 701, 702, McClel. Dig., in distress for rent, in which no written pleadings are necessary under the statute.

It was developed at the trial on the part of the plaintiff that she through her authorized agents, by written instrument, under seal, dated the 15th of August, 1887, leased the lower story of a certain house in the city of Orlando to the defendant, Biddell, for the period of one month, at a rental of $15 per month, payable in advance, the lease to continue from month to month for the term of one year, unless the lessor should sooner sell said premises, in which event Biddell was to surrender the premises at any time on 30 days' notice. That Biddell took possession of the premises under said lease, and paid one month's rent in advance. That during the latter part of the month of September, 1887, she made demand upon Biddell for the rent then overdue, and, on default of payment thereof, then demanded possession of the premises, all of which Biddell refused to do, persisting in retaining possession of the premises, and refusing to pay rent therefor. The plaintiff claimed that she was entitled to $360 for rents from October 1, 1887, to October 1, 1888, the same being double the rent due as per the contract, but allowed as a penalty under our statute where the tenant refuses to deliver possession of premises at the expiration of his lease. Section 15, p. 703, McClel. Dig. That the defendant had paid no rent for any part of that period.

On the part of the defendant, George W. Biddell, it was shown that on or about the 20th of August, 1887, a few days after he took possession of the premises as the tenant of the plaintiff under the above-mentioned lease, his wife, Elgiva A. Biddell, purchased the premises from the plaintiff, one M. O. Crumpler acting as his wife's agent in making said purchase. That he first went into possession under the lease as a renter, but that, after the purchase by his wife, he held the possession by virtue of the sale to his wife. That soon after buying the property he met the plaintiff, who stated to him that she wanted some flowers that were growing on the place, but that now, since she had sold to his wife, she did not feel authorized to take them unless Mrs. Biddell was disposed to give them to her, upon which he told her, if she would send for them, he would give them to her. The plaintiff also told him that, as they had bought the place before the end of the month for which rent had been paid, she would refund to him the month's rent paid, less the amount that had accrued up to the time of the purchase, and instructed him to call on her agents, Curtis, Fletcher & O'Neal, who would, for her, refund him the money, which he did. That ever since that time he and his family have been in possession of the premises under the purchase. That one De Witt Carter and family occupied the upper part of the building, and, after his wife's purchase, Carter paid rent to him, by instruction from the plaintiff, for some time.

De Witt Carter, for the defendant, testified that he was occupying the upper part of the building at the time it was sold by the plaintiff to Mrs. Biddell, and that, soon after the sale, the plaintiff told him she had sold the place to Mrs. Biddell, and that he should thereafter pay his rent to Mrs. Biddell; that he had consequently paid rent to Mrs. Biddell until the plaintiff, through her attorney, forbade it, and demanded the same to be paid again to her.

Ingram Fletcher, for the defendant, testified that he was a member of the firm of Curtis, Fletcher & O'Neal, who were agents for the plaintiff in renting her property; that he rented the lower story of the premises in question to G. W. Biddell on August 15, 1887, Biddell paying him $15 for one month's rent in advance; that, about a week after this, Biddell came to his office, and asked that a part of the month's rent that he had paid should be refunded to him, as he had bought the property; that he thereupon saw his principal, the plaintiff, who told him she had sold the place to Mrs Biddell, and that, if it was right, he might pay back a part of the rent received, upon which he refunded to Biddell...

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8 cases
  • Winn v. Strickland
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • November 20, 1894
    ...it, yet he may show that the title under which he entered has expired, or has been extinguished by operation of law. Robertson v. Biddell, 32 Fla. 304, 13 So. 358. A sale of the landlord's interest in the leased puts an end to his rights under the lease. Mrs. Sloan had at least an absolute ......
  • Rogers v. Martin
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • February 27, 1924
    ... ... is estopped to deny his landlord's title. Donald v ... McKinnon, 17 Fla. 746; McLean v. Spratt, 20 ... Fla. 515; Robertson v. Biddell, 32 Fla. 304, 13 So ... 358; Winn v. Strickland, 34 Fla. 610, 16 South, 606; ... Jones v. Allen, 63 Fla. 204, 58 So. 784; Walden ... ...
  • Farley v. Thompson
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • March 2, 1926
    ...parted with, his title or interest in the leased premises to a third person. Do ex dem. Lowden v. Watson, 2 Starkie, 230; Robertson v. Biddell, 13 So. 358, 32 Fla. 304; St. John v. Quitzow, 72 Ill. 334; Grundin v. Carter, 99 Mass. 15; Emmes v. Feeley, 132 Mass. 346; McGuffie v. Carter, 4 N.......
  • Farley v. Thompson
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • March 2, 1926
    ...parted with, his title or interest in the leased premises to a third person. Do ex dem. Lowden v. Watson, 2 Starkie, 230; Robertson v. Biddell, 13 So. 358, 32 Fla. 304; St. John v. Quitzow, 72 Ill. 334; Grundin Carter, 99 Mass. 15; Emmes v. Feeley, 132 Mass. 346; McGuffie v. Carter, 4 N.W. ......
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