Alexander v. Harris - 8 U.S. 299 (1808)
U.S. Supreme Court
Alexander v. Harris, 8 U.S. 4 Cranch 299 299 (1808)
Alexander v. Harris
8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 299
An averment of a demise for three years is not supported by proof of a lease for one year certain and two years further possession on the same terms by consent of the landlord.
The plea of no rent arrear admits the demise as laid in the avowry.
The court is bound to give judgment for double rent under the statute of Virginia.
Avowry by the defendant, stating that Crammond was seized in fee of the locus in quo, and demised the same to the plaintiff for the term of three years at a certain rent, and that because $111.67 of the rent were in arrear and unpaid, he acknowledged the taking as bailiff of Crammond, &c., and prays judgment for double rent.
Plea -- ought not to avow, &c., because he says that the said sum of $111.67 of the rent aforesaid, at the time when, &c., was not in arrear and unpaid to the said W. Crammond, nor was any part thereof in arrear, &c., and this he prays may be inquired of by the country, &c.
On the trial the defendant produced a letter from the plaintiff, to the defendant's agent agreeing to take the house for one year at the rent of $120, payable half yearly, and proved by witnesses that the plaintiff took the house upon the terms mentioned in the letter and remained in possession three years; that at the end of the first year no new express agreement was made, but the plaintiff continued in possession with the consent of the defendant's agent. The letter did not contain any agreement for renewing the lease at the end of the term by consent of the parties; whereupon, at the prayer of the defendant, the court below instructed the jury that if they believed from the evidence that the plaintiff took the house for one year by his letter, and afterwards, with the consent of the defendant's agent continued to hold the house for two years longer under the letter and without any new agreement, then the defendant is entitled to recover on his avowry, but that if the terms of the letter were relinquished and a new agreement made for the two years, the avowry was not supported by the evidence.
The plaintiff also produced to the court, after the verdict was rendered for the rent in arrear as stated in the avowry, the replevin bond given by the plaintiff, as evidence to satisfy the court that the defendant had distrained for more rent than he had avowed for and more than the jury had found in arrear, and objected to the rendition of judgment for double rent under the statute. But the court overruled the objection and rendered judgment for double the rent found in arear by the verdict.
To which opinions of the court the plaintiff excepted, and the verdict and judgment being against him, he brought his writ of error.