Garner v. Gerrish

63 N.Y.2d 575, 483 N.Y.S.2d 973, 473 N.E.2d 223 (1984)

 

RULE:

If the lease expressly and unambiguously grants to the tenant the right to terminate and does not reserve to the landlord a similar right, then to hold that such a lease creates a tenancy terminable at the will of either party would violate the terms of the agreement and the express intent of the contracting parties.

FACTS:

Owner's executor, respondent in this action, sought to regain possession of premises that owner had leased to appellant. The lease gave appellant the sole privilege of termination. Respondent contended because the lease failed to state a definite term, it created a tenancy at will terminable by either party. Trial court agreed, and appellate court affirmed. Appellant sought review in state's highest court. The court rejected the common law notion relied on by the lower courts, that such a lease created a tenancy at will.

ISSUE:

Did the lease agreement create a tenancy at will permitting the current landlord to evict the tenant?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court held there was no longer any reason why a lease granting tenant only the right to terminate should be converted into a tenancy at will terminable by either party. The lease in question simply granted a personal right to the appellant to terminate at a date of his choice and to hold otherwise would violate the terms of the agreement and the intent of the parties.

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