1902 Encyclopedia > Rent


RENT is classed in English law as an incorporeal heredi-tament, that is, a profit issuing out of a corporeal heredi-tament (see REAL ESTATE). A rent issuing but of an. incorporeal hereditament can only be possessed by the crown, or by a subject under statutory authority. Rent is said to lie in render, as distinguished from profits a prendre in general, which are said to lie in prender. At the present, day rent is generally a sum of money paid for the occupa-tion of land. It is important to notice that this conception of rent is attained at a comparatively late period of history. The earliest rent seems to have been a form of personal service, generally labour on the land, and was at the same time fixed by custom. The exaction of a com-petition or rack rent beyond that limited by custom was, if one may judge from the old Brehon law of Ireland, due to the presence upon the land of strangers in blood, probably at first outcasts from some other group. The strict feudal theory of rent admitted labour on the lord's land as a lower form, and at the same time developed the military service due to the crown or a lord as a higher form. Rent service is at once the oldest and the most dignified kind of existing rent. It is the only one to which the power of distress attaches at common law, giving the landlord a preferential right over other creditors exercisable without judicial authority (see DISTRESS). In course of time the increasing importance of socage tenure, arising in part from the convenience of paying a certain amount, whether in money or kind, rather than comparatively uncertain ser-vices, led to the gradual evolution of the modern view of rent as a sum due by contract between two independent persons. At the same time the primitive feeling which regarded the position of landlord and tenant from a social rather than a commercial point of view is still of importance.

Rents as they now exist in England are divided into three great classes—rent service, rent charge, and rent seek. A rent service is so called because by it a tenure by means of service is created between the landlord and the tenant. The service is now represented by fealty, and is nothing more than nominal. Rent service is said to be incident to the reversion, that is, a grant of the reversion carries the rent with it (see REMAINDER). A power of distress is incident at common law to this form of rent. Copyhold rents and rents reserved on lease fall into this class. A rent charge is a grant of an annual sum payable out of lands in which the grantor has an estate. It may be in fee, in tail, for life, or for years. It must be created by deed or will, and may be either at common law or under the Statute of Uses. The grantor has no reversion, and the grantee has at common law no power of distress. Such power must have beeu given him by the instrument creating the rent charge. The Statute of Uses, 27 Hen. VHI. c. 10, gave a power of distress for a rent charge created under the statute. The Conveyancing Act, 1881, 44 & 45 Vict. c. 41, § 44, now gives a power of distress for a sum due on any rent charge which is twenty-one days in arrear. By § 45 a power of redemption of certain perpetual rents in the nature of rent charges is given to the owner of the land out of which the rent issues. Rent charges granted since April 26, 1855, otherwise than by marriage settlement or will for a life or lives or for any estate determinable on a life or lives must, in order to bind lands against purchasers, mortgagees, or creditors, be registered in the central office of the Supreme Court (18 & 19 Vict. c. 15). In certain other cases it is also necessary to register rent charges, for instance, under the Improvement of Land Act, 1864, and the Land Transfer Act, 1875. Forms of rent charge of special interest are tithe rent charge (see TITHES), ground rents, and the rent charges for the purpose of conferring votes usually called " faggot votes." Ground rents are rent charges in fee simple issuing out of land sold for building purposes. The lessee erects buildings according to the terms of the lease, making his profit by subletting either at a rack rent or on the terms of a fine on entrance into possession, with an annual rent slightly larger than the ground rent. In the latter case the rent is called an improved ground rent. Ground rents are regarded as particularly eligible investments owing to the extent of the security afforded. Rent charges of the annual value of 40s. for the purpose of creating votes are now rendered ineffective by the Representation of the People Act, 1884, 48 Vict. c. 3, § 4, which enacts (subject to a saving for existing rights and an exception in favour of owners of tithe rent charge) that a man shall not be entitled to be registered as a voter in respect of the ownership of any rent charge. A rent seek (redditus siccus) is a rent charge reserved without power of distress. But, as power of distress for rent seek was given by 4 Geo. II. c. 28, the legal effect of such rent has been since the Act the same as that of a rent charge. There are varieties of these main divisions of rent to which special names are given. Rents of assize or quit rents are a relic of the old customary rents. They are pre-sumed to have been established by usage, and cannot be increased or diminished. They are found only in manors. Those paid by the freeholders are also called chief rents. Fee farm rents are rents reserved on grants in fee. Accord-ing to some authorities they must be at least one-fourth of the value of the lands. They, like quit rents, now occur only in manors, unless existing before the Statute of Quia Emptores or created by the crown (see REAL ESTATE). A rent which is equivalent or nearly equivalent in amount to the full annual value of the land is a rack rent. A dead rent is a fixed annual sum paid by a person working a mine or quarry, in addition to royalties varying accord-ing to the amount of minerals taken. Rents in kind still exist to a limited extent; thus the corporation of London is tenant of some lands in Shropshire by payment to the crown of an annual rent of a faggot. All pepper-corn or nominal rents seem to fall under this head. Services rendered in lieu of payment by tenants in grand and petit serjeanty may also be regarded as examples of rents in kind. Labour rents are represented by those cases, not unfrequent in agricultural leases, where the tenant is bound to render the landlord a certain amount of team work or other labour as a part of his rent. It was held in the Queen's Bench in 1845 that tenants who occupied houses on the terms of sweeping the parish church and of ringing the church bell paid rent within the meaning of the Limitation Act of 3 & 4 Will. IV.. c. 27.

Apportionment.—in regard to estate a rent service is apportion-able at common law, as well as under certain Acts of Parliament, such as the Land Clauses Act. A rent charge was formerly not apportionable, for it issued out of every part of the land and was at the same time in contemplation of law against common right as not being incident to tenure. The legal effect of this was that (with some exceptions) a release of part of the land out of which a rent charge issued was a release of the whole. It was provided by 22 & 23 Vict. c. 35, § 10, that the release from a rent charge of part of the hereditaments charged does not extinguish the whole rent charge, but operates only to bar the right to recover any part of the rent charge out of the hei'editaments released. In regard to-time, at common law no kind of rent was apportionable. The effect of this was that if the person entitled to the rent died between rent days no rent was due to the succeeding reversioner for the inter-mediate period. This was remedied by 11 Geo. II. c. 19, and other Acts, which are now practically superseded by the Apportionment Act, 1870, 33 & 34 Vict. c. 35. By this Act all rents are, in the absence of stipulation to the contrary, to be considered as accruing from day to day, and apportionable in respect of time accordingly.

Remedies.—Rent is due in the morning of the day appointed for payment, but is not in arrear until after midnight. It should be demanded just before sunset. The landlord has besides distress his. ordinary remedy by action. In addition special statutory remedies, are given in the case of tenants holding over after the expiration of their tenancy. By 11 Geo. II. c. 19 any tenant giving notice to quit and holding over is liable to pay double rent for such time as he continues in possession. By 1 & 2 Vict. c. 74 a tenant at a rent not exceeding £20 per annum who fails to deliver up possession after his interest has ended may be ejected by summary pro-ceedings before justices. By 19 & 20 Vict. c. 108 a similar remedy is given in the county court where the rent does not exceed £50 per annum. Analogous provisions are contained in Acts, dealing with the metropolitan district. It should be noticed that, since the writing of the article DISTRESS, the landlord's power of distress has been considerably limited in the case of agricultural tenancies falling within the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1883, 46 & 47 Vict. c. 61. § 44 confines the right of distress to one year's arrears of rent instead of six years' arrears, which could be distrained for before the Act. An extension of time is allowed in cases where in the ordinary course of dealing between landlord and tenant the payment of rent has been allowed to be deferred for a. quarter or half year after the rent became legally due. By § 45 live stock belonging to another person and taken in by a tenant to-be fed has a qualified privilege from distress ; that is, it is not distrainable where there is other sufficient distress to be found. If so distrained for want of other sufficient distress, it may be re-deemed by the owner on payment of any sum due for the feeding. Agricultural or other machinery on the premises of the tenant for hire or use and live stock on the premises solely for breeding pur-poses are absolutely privileged from distress. The Act further makes appraisement before sale unnecessary, and enacts that bailiffs, to levy distress are to be appointed by county court judges. For other provisions of the Act dealing with procedure, see REPLEVIN.

Ireland.—The main differences between Irish and English law have been caused by legislation (see LANDLORD AND TENANT). One of the most noticeable is the power of ejectment for non-payment of rent given by 23 & 24 Vict. c. 154. In England such a power can only be conferred by express agreement.

Scotland.—Rent is properly the payment made by tenant to landlord for the use of lands held under lease. The rent paid by vassal to superior is called feu-duty (see FEU). Its nearest English equivalent is the fee farm rent. Rents are recovered by an action of maills and duties in the Sheriff Court or the Court of Session, and in non-agricultural tenancies by hypothec. The right of hypothec over land exceeding 2 acres in extent let for agriculture or pasture has been abolished as from November 11, 1881 (see HYPOTHEC). The Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1883, 46 & 47 Vict, c. 62, provides by § 27 that when six months' rent of the hold-ing is due and unpaid the landlord may raise an action of removing before the sheriff against the tenant, concluding for his removal at the term of Whitsunday or Martinmas next ensuing ; and, unless, the arrears are paid or caution is found, the sheriff may decern the tenant to remove. The tenant so removed has the rights of an outgoing tenant. Labour or service rents were at one time very frequent in Scotland. The events of 1715 and 1745 showed the vast influence over the tenantry that the great proprietors ac-quired by such means. Accordingly the Acts of 1 Geo. I., sess. 2, e. 54, and 20 Geo. II. c. 50, provided for the commutation of services into money rents. Such services may still be created by agreement, subject to the summary power of commutation by the sheriff given by the Conveyancing Act, 1874, 37 & 38 Vict. c. 94, §§ 20, 21. " In the more remote parts of Scotland it is understood that there still exist customary returns in produce of various kinds, which being regulated by the usage of the district or of the barony or estate cannot be comprehended under any general rule" (Hunter, Landlord and Tenant, vol. ii. 298). TJp to within forty years ago existed steelbow leases, by which the landlord stocked the farm with corn, cattle, implements, &c., the tenant returning similar articles at the expiration of his tenancy and paying in addition to the ordinary rent a steelbow rent of 5 per cent, on the value of the stock.

United States.—Agricultural rents are, from the different position of the cultivators of the land, of less importance than in England. The law is in general accordance with that of England. The tendency of modern State legislation is unfavourable to the continuance of distress as a remedy. In some States, such as Ohio and Tennessee, it never existed. Fee farm rents exist in some States, like Pennsylvania, which have not adopted the Statute of 'Quia JUmptores as a part of their common law. (J. W†.)

The above article was written by: James Williams.

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