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When the parties' intent is made clear, courts should enforce the agreement as written, even though perpetual rights are not favored.
Appellant owner leased a piece of land to appellee lessee for a term of 20 years so long thereafter as the lessee, his heirs, successors, or assigns, may use the premises for the purpose of maintaining and certain equipment in connection with the processing, refining, treating, and storing of natural gas and its derivatives, or other petroleum products. All rent has been timely paid by appellee and the property has been used in compliance with the lease continuously since 1956. Appellant sought relief, arguing that after the 20-year term the lease was indefinite, therefore a mere tenancy at will terminable by either party at any time. The trial court declared the lease enforceable. Appellant challenged the decision.
After the expiration of the 20-year term, did the lease create a mere tenancy at will terminable by either party at any time?
The court held that after the expiration of the 20-year term, the lease was of uncertain duration but did continue as long as rents were paid and the land was used for specific, definite purposes. The court held that the lease did not create a tenancy at will after the end of the 20-year term, and that it appeared that the parties intended to create a perpetual right to lease the land, thus the judgment was affirmed.