Sunday, November 20, 2016

London Lease

 My friend Ben has moved to London, where he's rented a house for his family.  It seems their landlady could not take two pet hens to her retirement residence, and of course Ben's boys clamored for him to keep them.  But, he asked,  would he be responsible if a hawk got one of them? So the Land Agent or whatever they call it there wrote a 49th provision into the lease:
49.1 The Landlord gives consent to the Tenant to keep the Landlord’s two chickens and coup in the garden. In consideration of this the Tenant must ensure that these chickens do not cause any difficulty or damage or nuisance either to the Premises and or the fixtures or fittings or to any neighbour. If that should occur the Landlord and/or the Landlords Agent reserves the right to terminate this consent and to require that these pets leave the Premises immediately.
 49.2 The Tenant agrees to remove all mess from the garden or other outside areas of the Premises both during the Tenancy, particularly prior to any visit from the gardener, and prior
to the end or earlier termination of the Tenancy.
 49.3 For the avoidance of doubt the chickens and their eggs will belong to the Tenant and the Tenant will be responsible for any costs associated with the keeping of the chickens.
 49.4 The Tenant agrees to return the land at the end of the Tenancy in the same condition as stated in the inventory and schedule of condition at the commencement of the Tenancy unless the Landlord gives written confirmation he would like to retain any additions or
changes that the Tenant has made, with no compensation payable to the Tenant at the end or earlier termination of the tenancy.
 49.5 The Landlord shall have no responsibility or liability for any claims whatsoever (including 3rd party claims) arising from the condition of the fields or fences due to any chickens being
kept by the tenant.
 49.6 It is further agreed that in the event any of the chickens shall die then the landlord will not be responsible for replacing or compensating the tenant for such loss.
I'm not sure what 49.4 has to do with chickens, but it's pretty much  what I used to teach in those real estate courses.  Just the same, if I had been on the Premises I would have given Ben the usual advice: have your own solicitor look the lease over before you sign.
I don't know what the other 48 provisions of that lease were, but in the Chickens section I still don't see any answer to the original question:  Is Ben responsible if one of the hens dies?


  1. Maybe add a sentence to 49.6 to the effect that the Tenant will not be responsible for replacing or compensating the Landlord if any of the chickens shall die by natural means or acts of God (e.g., hawks)? Seems only fair.

    Incidentally, I've been hearing complaints all summer and fall from the various farmers from whom I buy eggs at the Syracuse Regional Market re: hawks and foxes. It seems the creatures are as desperate as we are these days.

    1. P.S. I think both the Landlord's solicitor and I have been guilty of misleading wording in "replacing or compensating the Landlord/Tenant." Much as the Landlord and the Tenant might wish to replace each other, this might have some dubious legal consequences.

  2. Oh my, life is complicated! It wasn't clear to me: is there a no pet clause in the lease? And whose pets are the chickens - the landlord's or tenant's? The issue of keeping chickens at one's home has become an interesting and surprisingly controversial issue here in the city of Albany and surrounding suburbs as we move more and more toward local food production. That the chickens are too noisy and/or a health hazard for neighbors seems to be the concern, with others (in one case a child) arguing for the cause of sustainability. My husband, on the town board at the time, voted in favor of chickens, of course. But on our own homestead, fox and owls could do them in and I am too lazy to spend time trying to protect chickens.

  3. 49.3 For the avoidance of doubt the chickens and their eggs will belong to the Tenant ...
    This clarifies things. The landlord is relinquishing ownership, and thus has no further interest in the chickens themselves, beyond ensuring no liability for their damage to landlord's or others' property. The Foxes (or foxes) could eat the chickens (and their eggs, whichever comes first)at no risk of suit from the landlord for comensation.