This section is from the book "Real Property, An Introductory Explanation Of The Law Relating To Land", by Alfred F Topham. Also available from Amazon: The New Law Of Property.
(1) By notice. - A tenancy at will may be determined at any time by notice.
A tenancy from year to year may be determined at the end of any year by notice if given within the proper time (see p. 194).
(2) By lapse of time, - A lease for a fixed period comes to an end at the expiration of that period without any notice.
(3) By surrender or merger. - The lease may be brought to an end by the lessee surrendering his lease to the landlord. This may be done in two ways -
(i.) By express surrender. - A tenant who has
(g) Doe d. Strode v. Seaton (1835), 2 Gr. M. & R., 728.
not assigned or sublet his interest can surrender it by deed to the person who has the immediate reversion. The lease will then merge in the reversion (gg).
Thus, A, who has the fee simple, grants land to B for 50 years. If B surrenders his 50 years' term to A, the lease is destroyed.
But there can be no surrender to any person who has not got the immediate reversion.
Thus, A as above grants land to B for 50 years. B then sublets the same land to C for 30 years.
C cannot surrender to A because there is 20 years of B's term between his estate and A's estate. But C could surrender to B, and then B could surrender to A.
(ii.) Surrender by operation of law. - If, while the lease is still existing, the landlord grants a new lease to the tenant, or if the tenant does anything which recognises that the landlord has a right to deal with the land, the first lease is deemed to have been surrendered.
The reason is that a landlord cannot grant a lease while there is an existing lease (he can only grant an interesse termini, see p. 197), and therefore if a new lease is granted and accepted it is assumed that the first lease has been given up.
(4) By forfeiture. - A lease generally contains a provision that if the lessee commits a breach of any of the covenants, the lease shall be determined and the landlord may re-enter.
A breach of covenant does not enable the landlord to re-enter unless there is an express proviso for re-entry (h).
If the lease contains a proviso for re-entry, a tenant who commits a breach of covenant can be ejected by the landlord, subject to the following exceptions: -
(gg) This of course can only be done with the consent of the landlord. (h) Doe d. Wilson v. Phillips (1824), 2 Bing. 13.
(1) Breach of a covenant to pay rent. - A tenant who is ejected by the landlord for non-payment of rent may be relieved front the forfeiture provided -
(i.) he applies to the Court within 6 months after the forfeiture (i), and
(ii.) he pays all arrears of rent, and
(iii.) it is equitable that he should be relieved.
Howard v. Fanshawe,  2 Ch. 581.
The tenant of a lease for 99 years borrowed money from H on the security of the lease. The tenant did not pay rent for 9 months. The landlord F claimed that the lease was forfeited. This would have caused great hardship to H, who would have lost his security.
Held, H may retain the lease on payment of the arrears of rent.
(2) In case of (a) a covenant not to sublet or assign the lease, or
(b) A covenant in a mining lease to allow the lessor to enter and inspect the mines.
If a tenant commits a breach of either of these two covenants he forfeits the lease, and has no right to relief.
Imray v. Oakshette,  2 Q. B. 218.
Lyons purchased a lease and paid a considerable premium for it. He did not know that a breach of covenant had already been committed by an assignment of it without leave.
Held, the lease was forfeited and L had no remedy.
(3) In case of a proviso for forfeiture on the bankruptcy of the tenant.
If the landlord wishes to claim that the lease has been forfeited within the first year after the tenant becomes bankrupt, he must give notice of his
(i) Common Law Procedure Act, 1852 (15 & 16 Vict. c. 76).
intention to do so (as in No. 4 below), but when one year has passed, then if the lease has not been transferred by the trustee in bankruptcy, the landlord may re-enter without notice.
In cases where the continued solvency of the tenant is of great importance to the landlord, the landlord may re-enter without notice immediately after the bankruptcy (k). Such cases are leases of agricultural land, mines, public-houses, furnished houses, and other cases where the personal qualifications of the tenant are of importance.
(4) In case of all other covenants. - By s. 14 of the Conveyancing Act, 1881 (l), a lessor cannot take advantage of any proviso for forfeiture or re-entry until he has served on the lessee a notice -
(a) Specifying the breach he complains of, and
(b) requiring the lessee to remedy the breach if possible, and
(c) (in any case) requiring compensation in damages and until a reasonable time has elapsed after the service of such notice.
The full text of these provisions will be found on p. 317. The four classes of covenants mentioned above numbered 1, 2a, 2b, and 3, are expressly excepted from this section.
Another case of forfeiture may occur if the tenant denies the title of his landlord and claims the fee simple.
Doe d. Ellerbrock v. Flynn (1834), 1 C. M. & E. 137.
A was a lessee of E: F claimed the freehold and paid A 5s. A handed over the land to P. Held, A's lease was forfeited.
(k) C.A. 1892, 55 & 56 Vict. c. 13, s. 2 (2) and (3). (l) 44 & 45 Vict. c. 41.