The resuming or retaking possession of land which the party lately had.
Ground rent deeds and leases frequently contain a clause authorizing the landlord to reenter on the non-payment of rent, or the breach of some cove-nant, when the estate is forfeited. Forfeitures for the non-payment of rent being the most common, will here alone be considered. When such a forfeiture has taken place, the lessor or his assigns have a right to repossess themselves of the demised premises.
Great niceties must be observed in making such reentry. Unless they have been dispensed with by the agreement of the parties, several things are required by law to be previously done by the landlord or reversioner to entitle him to reenter.
1. There must be a demand of rent. - 2. The demand must be of the precise rent due, for the demand of a penny more or less will avoid the entry. If a part of the rent be paid, a reentry may be made for the part unpaid.
3. It must be made precisely on the day when the rent is due and payable by the lease, to save the forfeiture. As where the lease contains a proviso that if the rent shall be behind and unpaid, for the space of thirty, or any other number of days, it must be made on the thirtieth or last day.
- 4. It must be made a convenient time before sunset, that the money may be counted and a receipt given, while there is light enough reasonably to do so therefore proof of a demand in the afternoon of the last day, without showing in what part of the afternoon it was made, and that it was towards sunset or late in the afternoon, is not sufficient. - 5. It must be made upon the land, and at the most notorious place of it. Therefore, if there be a dwelling house upon the laud, the demand must be made at the front door, though it is not necessary to enter the house, notwithstanding the door be open; if woodland be the subject of the lease, a demand ought to be made at the gate, or some highway leading through the woods as the most notorious.
6. Unless a place is appointed where the rent is payable, in which case a demand must be made at such place for the presumption is the tenant was there to pay it.
7. A demand of the rent must be made in fact, although there should be no person on the land ready to pay it.
- 8. If after these requisites have been performed by the lessor or reversioner, the tenant neglects or refuses to pay the rent, and no sufficient distress can be found on the premises, then the lessor or reversioner is to reenter. He should then openly declare before the witnesses he may have provided for the purpose, that for the want of a sufficient distress, and because of the non-payment of the rent demanded, mentioning the amount, he reenters and repossesses himself of the premises.
A tender of the rent by the tenant to the lessor, made on the last day, either on or off the premises, will save the forfeiture.
It follows as a necessary inference from what has been premised, that a demand made before or after the last day which the lessee has to pay the rent, in order to prevent the forfeiture, or off the land, will not be sufficient to defeat the estate.
The forfeiture may be waived by the lessor, in the case of a lease for years, by his acceptance of rent, accruing since the forfeiture, provided he knew of the cause.
A reentry cannot be made for nonpayment of rent if there is any distrainable property on the premises, which may be taken in satisfaction of the rent, and every part of the premises must be searched.
The entry may be made by the lessor or reversioner himself, or by attorney; the entry of one joint tenant or tenant in common, enures to the benefit of the whole. After the entry has been made, evidence of it ought to be perpetuated.
Courts of chancery will generally make the lessor account to the lessee for the profits of the estate, during the time of his being in possession; and will compel him, after he has satisfied the rent in arrear, and the costs attending his entry, and detention of the lands, to give up the possession to the lessee, and to pay him the surplus profits of the estate.