TITLE 25

Property

Agricultural Leases

CHAPTER 67. AGRICULTURAL LEASES

Subchapter I. 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:

(1) "Agricultural land," "farmland" or "rural land" shall mean any parcel, 10 acres or more, not within the limits of any city or municipality, which is capable of being farmed;

(2) "Cropper" or "sharecropper" shall mean one who cultivates the farmland of another, in return for a share of the crop produced.

(3) "Demise" shall be synonymous with the term "lease";

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

(a) Every verbal lease of agricultural land and every written lease of agricultural land in which no term is expressed shall be deemed and construed to be a lease having a term of 1 year, terminating on December 31 next occurring unless the lease is entered into after September 1, in which case the lease shall terminate on the second December 31 next occurring.

(b) In every verbal lease of agricultural land and every written lease of agricultural land in which no term is expressed, the lease shall terminate at the end of 1 year, terminating on December 31 next occurring unless the lease is entered into after September 1, in which case the lease shall terminate on the second December 31 next occurring; provided, however, the landlord or tenant gives the other party notice in writing at least 4 months in advance of the expiration date thereof that the landlord or tenant, as the case may be, intends to terminate the lease at the expiration date thereof. If no such notice is given by either party the lease shall become a year to year lease renewing itself yearly under the same terms and conditions until the hereinmentioned notice requirement is met by either party desiring to terminate said lease.

(c) Notice, as provided for herein, shall not be required if all parties to a lease of agricultural land specify in writing that said lease shall terminate on the expiration date thereof without notice of such termination.

(d) In every verbal lease of a tenant house located on a poultry farm and every written lease of a tenant house located on a poultry farm in which no term is expressed, the landlord or tenant, as the case may be, shall have 14 days to notify the landlord/or tenant, as the case may be, that the lease of the tenant house is terminated, except that this subsection shall not apply to a tenant who is not involved with the management or supervision of poultry.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1; 61 Del. Laws, c. 242, § 1; 62 Del. Laws, c. 302, § 1; 69 Del. Laws, c. 339, §§ 1, 2.;

(a) In every written lease of agricultural land, which by its terms is for a definite period, the lease shall terminate on the expiration date thereof; provided, however, the landlord or tenant gives the other party notice in writing at least 4 months in advance of the expiration date thereof that the landlord or tenant, as the case may be, intends to terminate the lease at the expiration date thereof. If no such notice is given by either party the lease shall become a year to year lease renewing itself yearly under the same terms and conditions until the hereinmentioned notice requirement is met by either party desiring to terminate said lease.

(b) Notice, as provided for herein, shall not be required if all parties to a lease of agricultural land specify in writing that said lease shall terminate on the expiration date thereof without notice of such termination.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1; 61 Del. Laws, c. 242, § 2.;

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 lessees, 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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

(a) 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.

(b) 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 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 law, are not subject to the process of the agricultural landlord's distress.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

(a)(1) 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.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

(4) 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.

(5) 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.

(b) In the case of a removal of agricultural produce in violation 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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

Whenever a tenant at the beginning of that tenant's tenancy has moved or carried upon the demised premises any hay, the tenant shall at the expiration of that tenant's tenancy be authorized to remove from the premises, 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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

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 that landlord's 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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

Any agricultural tenant who grew corn or who is growing corn the year the tenant surrenders possession of the premises shall harvest all corn which the tenant leaves on the premises at the time of that tenant's 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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

Where the distress is for grain or produce, the person authorized to levy such distress shall summon and cause to be sworn 2 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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

The tenant whose goods are distrained in accordance with this chapter shall have that tenant's 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 the landlord the estimated value, together in both cases with the expense 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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

No sheriff, constable or other person making distress for rent shall summon more than 2 appraisers of property, and the compensation of the appraisers shall be $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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 175, § 1.;

Liability of goods levied upon for 1 year's rent:

(1) If goods, chattels or crops of a tenant being upon premises held by the tenant by demise under a rent of money are seized by virtue of any process of execution, attachment or sequestration, the goods and chattels shall be liable for 1 year's rent of the premises in arrear or growing due, at the time of the seizure, in preference to such process; accordingly the landlord shall be paid such rent, not exceeding 1 year's rent, out of the proceeds of the sale of such goods and chattels, before anything shall be applicable to such process.

(2) The sheriff, or other officer, who sells the goods and chattels of a tenant upon process of execution, attachment or sequestration shall at least 10 days before such sale give written notice of the time and place thereof to the landlord if residing in the county, and if not, to any known agent of the landlord in the county.

25 Del. C. 1953, § 6501; 58 Del. Laws, c. 472, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 12.;

Any tax laid upon lands or tenements according to law which is paid by or levied from the tenant of such lands or tenements, or a person occupying and having charge of same, shall be a setoff against the rent or other demand of the owner for the use, or profits, of such premises. If there is no rent or other demand sufficient to cover the sum so paid or levied, the tenant or other person may demand and recover the same from the owner, with costs. This provision shall not affect any contract between the landlord and tenant.

25 Del. C. 1953, § 6502; 58 Del. Laws, c. 472, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 13.;

An action for possession involving an agricultural lease shall be heard by the Justice of the Peace Court which hears civil cases in the county in which the property is located. In the event that the property involved in the litigation is situated in more than 1 county, jurisdiction shall lie in the county in which the majority of the property sits. The provisions of Chapter 57 of this title shall apply to any such action. Service of process shall be delivered by personal service as prescribed in Justice of the Peace Court Civil Rules or certified mail, return receipt requested; there shall be no requirement that the property be posted to effect service of process, unless other means of service have first failed.

79 Del. Laws, c. 255, § 1.;