HOUSE BILL NO. 254
AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENTS NO.1AND 3
AND SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 3
AN ACT TO AMEND PART III, TITLE 25 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PROPERTY; AND PROVIDING FOR THE REGULATION OF AGRICULTURAL LEASES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:
Section 1. Amend Part III, Title 25 of the Delaware
Code by adding thereto the following Chapter:
"CHAPTER 67. AGRICULTURAL LEASES SUBCHAPTER 1. RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF LANDLORDS AND TENANTS.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this Chapter, shall have the meaning ascribed to them except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
(a) 'Agricultural land', 'farm land', or 'rural land' shall mean any parcel, ten acres or more, not' within the limits of any city or municipality, which is capable of being farmed.
(b) 'Demise' shall be synonymous with the term 'lease'.
(c) 'Cropper' or 'sharecropper' shall mean one whocultivates the farm land of another, in return for a share of the crop produced.
§6702. Term of a Demise of Agricultural Land in Absence of a Statement of Term: Notice
In every lease or demise of agricultural land where no term is expressly provided for, such lease shall be deemed and construed to be a lease for one year.
During the period of the lease of agricultural lands where no term is provided for, the landlord or tenant must give Notice in writing, at least four months in advance of the expiration date thereof, that the tenant intends to remove from the demised premises or that the landlord wishes to resume possession or lease to another. If no such Notice is given, each party is entitled to assume that the lease shall continue in force for another full year from the expiration date, as determined by the agreement or by this section.
§6703. Lease of Farm Lands for More than One Year: Notice
Whenever the term of a lease or demise of agricultural lands is, or becomes by construction, for a term in excess of one year, the lease shall terminate as stated therein. If the term is not stated in the lease or is indefinite, either party shall give at least six months' Notice of his intent to terminate the lease upon a certain date. Any party di siring to extend the lease shall give Notice to the other party to the intended provisions of the extension; otherwise, any extension shall be on the same terms as the original lease unless otherwise agreed to in writing.
§6704. Remedy of Agricultural Landlord
Grantees of reversions and remainders in any lands, tenements or hereditaments let to lease, and their heirs, executors, administrators or assigns, shall have the same remedies, by entry or action, or otherwise, against the leasees, their executors, administrators or assigns, for any waste done, or for the nonperformance of any condition, covenant or contract contained in the lease or demise, as the grantors could have.
§6705. Distress on Agricultural Leases
Distress will lie for any rent due and owing on agricultural lands, and distraint may be effected on any personalty including a quantity or share of crops being grown by the tenant on the land of the landlord.
A distress may be of the grain, orchard produce or other crops found upon the premises out of which the rent issues, or upon which it is charged, whether growing, severed, in sheaves, stacks or otherwise, as well as upon horses, cattle and other goods and chattels of the tenant being upon the premises; provided, however, goods and chattels not the property of the tenant, but being in his possession or upon the premises are not subject to distraint. Also excepted from the provisions of this section are any animals, not the property of the tenant, which have escaped into the premises of the landlord through a defect in the fences which the tenant was bound to repair. Goods and chattels which have been sold or leased to the tenant under the terms of a conditional sales contract or lease, properly recorded in accordance with the law, are not subject to the process of the agricultural landlord's distress.
§6706. Preference of Rent in Cases of Execution
If grain or other produce, growing or being upon premises held by a tenant, for which rent to be paid is a quantity or share of grain or other produce, is seized by virtue of any process of execution, attachment or sequestration, such agricultural produce shall be first applied to the payment of the year's rent before it is applied to the payment of other debts of the tenant. Any agricultural produce remaining after the payment of the year's rent shall be applied to other debts of the tenant before process is issued against other personalty. If the rent is to be paid by a particular crop, whatever amount of that particular crop is found upon the premises shall be first taken as payment or part payment of that rent. If the crops are still planted or growing, the person executing upon such crops shall be responsible for the proper cultivation and care of the crops. No person shall remove the grain or produce of an agricultural tenant who is in arrears for rent without either paying the rent proper to be rendered from such property, or giving, or tendering to the landlord or other person entitled to the rent, good security for payment of the same.
In the case of removal of agricultural produce in violation of the provisions of this section, the landlord or other person entitled to the rent may immediately follow and distrain upon the produce removed, and may proceed in the same manner as if the rent had been in arrears at the time of removal.
§6707. Removal by Tenant of Provender
Whenever a tenant at the beginning of his tenancy has moved or carried upon the demised premises any hay, he shall at the expiration of his tenancy be authorized to remove from the preinises, without the consent of the owner, a like quantity of hay. In any dispute concerning the quantity of hay removed or carried upon such demised premises by the tenant at the beginning of his tenancy, the burden of proof shall be upon the tenant.
§6708. Obstruction by Tenant
In the absence of a written contract to the contrary, no tenant of a farm shall obstruct or interfere with the cultivation and care of fruit trees, the seeding of wheat and other grains where by custom or by contract such seeding is to be done by the incoming tenant or the setting of plants necessary for future crops, by the landlord or his incoming tenant, their agents and employees, but no injury may be done to growing crops of the tenant, and such tenant shall remove or carry over such crops as is the custom in the community at a reasonable time to permit the seeding or setting of plants.
§6709. Duties of Outgoing Tenants With Respect to Corn
Any agricultural tenant who grew corn or who is growing corn the year he surrenders possession of the premises shall harvest all corn which he leaves on the premises at the time of his removal. In the event the outgoing tenant, or the tenant giving up possession does not harvest the corn on the farm, then the incoming tenant may be privileged to enter upon the farm and harvest the corn and charge the expenses to the crop.
§6710. Rent Payable with Portion of Grain or Produce
In all cases where land shall be rendered in consideration of the rendering of a portion of the crops raised upon the same, or for a specific amount of grain or other produce, and the tenant shall fail to render such grain or produce according to the terms of the contract, the landlord may levy a distress for the same.
§6711. Distress of Agricultural Produce; Appraisal
Where the distress is for grain or produce, the person authorized to levy such distress shall summon and cause to be sworn two disinterested persons, whose duty it shall be to estimate under oath the money value of the specific amount or quantity of grain, or other produce or proportion of the crops agreed upon as rent, and thereupon to proceed to levy the said distress.
§6712. Delivery of Grain or Other Produce, or Payment of Estimated Value
The tenant whose goods are distrained in accordance with this Chapter shall have his election at any time before the goods, chattels and property distrained shall be sold under such distress to deliver the rent of grain or other produce or proportion of crops to the landlord, or to pay him the estimated value, together in both cases with the expenses of said distress; whereupon all proceedings in the said distress shall cease. But nothing herein contained shall limit the tenant from any action to recover goods unlawfully taken or to take any action to contest the fairness of such valuation.
§6713. Number and Compensation of Appraisers.
No Sheriff, Constable or other person making distress for rent shall summon more than two appraisers of property, and the compensation of the appraisers shall be five dollars ($5.00) each, to be recovered and paid as other costs in such cases. In distress for money rent on agricultural leases, the appraisers shall not be summoned.
§6714. Rent Reserved as Crops.
In all cases of renting lands wherein a share of the growing crop or crops shall be reserved as rent, said rent reserved shall be a lien. upon such crop or crops, and such crop or crops shall not be seized in bankruptcy or insolvency, or by process of law issued against the tenant.
§6715. Lien on Crops.
In all cases of renting land wherein a share of the growing crop or crops shall be reserved as rent, or wherein advances are made by the landlord upon the faith of the crops to be grown, said rent reserved and such advances made shall be a lien on such crop or crops, which shall not be divested by any sale by any administrator of a deceased tenant, or by the assignment of the tenant in insolvency, or by process of law issued against the tenant; provided, however, that at the time of the said renting the contract under and by which the said advances are made shall be reduced to writing, duly attested by the said landlord and tenant. Before such advances shall be made a lien, however, the contract under which such advances are made shall be recorded as other liens are recorded in the county wherein the land lies.
SUBCHAPTER II. MISCELLANEOUS
§6721. Disposition of Manure.
In the absence of an express agreement between the parties, an agricultural tenant, whether a tenant at will or for a term of years, shall have no right to remove, or sell for removal, any manure made in the ordinary course of his husbandry on the farm occupied by such tenant and consisting of the collections from any stable or barnyard, or of composts formed by an admixture of these with soil or other substances. If an agreement between the landlord and the tenant grants to the tenant the right to remove the manure made on the premises, the tenant shall do no act which will do unnecessary injury to the soil, and may not remove soil with the manure. During the term of the lease, however, the tenant of a farm lease is entitled to the possession of the manure made thereon in the ordinary course of husbandry, for the purpose of using it on the farm but shall have no right to sell it. If the tenant sells the manure, the landlord shall have the choice of receiving the money paid, or he may maintain an action against the purchaser for the true value of the manure if the amount paid was less than the true value.
A tenant who uses the demised premises as a corral for cattle and feeds such cattle with supplies procured from sources foreign to the demised land may remove all manure made by them which is not commingled with the soil, provided such tenant uses reasonable care and skill when removing the manure from the land so as to provent injury thereto.
§6722. Improper Tillage and Cutting of Timber as Waste.
agricultural land, without the consent of the landlord in writing, is waste. Improper tillage and the cutting of timber may be enjoined by the landlord, who may also bring an action for double the damage done to the land, loss of value of the land and loss of value of the crop or timber.
§6723. Assignment of Farm Leases.
A lease of land on shares, including the use of buildings, farm implements, stock and other personal property, is a personal contract and is not assignable without the consent of the lessor; provided, however, where the original lease runs "to the leasee and his assigns," or where the crop has been harvested and marketed, the lease shall be assignable.
§6724. Delivery of Crop Rent.
In the absence of any agreement between a landlord and his tenant fixing the place at which crop rent shall be delivered, it shall be delivered upon the leased premises.
Section 2. Effective Date.
The effective Date of this Act shall be January 1, 1976.
Approved July 2, 1975