Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1965, No. 544, in case of Harry Peirce v. Jason D. Hoffstot et al.
John E. Kunz, with him J. I. Simon, for appellant.
Stanton Don Levenson, with him Silvestri Silvestri, for appellees.
Ervin, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. (Wright, J., absent). Opinion by Spaulding, J.
[ 211 Pa. Super. Page 382]
This is an appeal from a judgment for $1630 awarded to Jason D. Hoffstot and Jason J. Hoffstot, appellees, by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, sitting without a jury, in a replevin action instituted by Harry Peirce, appellant. He sought the establishment of his title to and right of possession and custody of articles of personal property upon which a levy and distraint had been made by appellees for an alleged breach of lease by appellant.
Hazel C. McClelland owned a two-story house in Pittsburgh which she had leased to appellees over a period of years. Appellees, in turn, subleased the second floor to appellant by written agreement effective for one year beginning November 1, 1962 at a monthly rental of $135. In October, 1963, prior to the expiration of the one-year lease, appellant signed the reverse side of the lease in a space beneath the printed "bail absolute" clause and above the printed renewal clause.*fn1 By letter dated October 1, 1964 appellant's attorney notified appellees of appellant's intention to vacate the premises on or before October 31, 1964. Twelve days later, pursuant to an acceleration clause in the lease,*fn2 appellees caused a levy and distraint to be made on
[ 211 Pa. Super. Page 383]
goods and chattels of the appellant for payment of rent alleged to be due to the end of the term of the lease, viz., October 31, 1965, amounting to $1620, plus constable's charges of $10. Appellant thereupon instituted his replevin action. On January 22, 1965, before the matter came to trial, the entire property was destroyed by fire.
On appeal from the judgment against him, appellant contends, as he contended at trial, that the renewal execution of his lease with the appellees was in blank,*fn3 and therefore constituted as a matter of law an extension whereby he became a tenant at will, required to give only 30 days notice of his intention to vacate.*fn4
The thrust of appellant's argument is blunted, however, by an explicit finding of the trial court that a two-year renewal was effected, and we are of course bound by such a finding absent a showing that it is capricious, against the weight of the evidence and results in a miscarriage of justice. Simon v. H. K. Porter Co., 407 Pa. 359, 363, 180 A.2d 227 (1962). We hold that the finding is adequately supported by the record.
Appellant next contends that, even under the acceleration clause, he is not liable for any rent which would have been due after the destruction of the premises by fire. He avers that appellees' right to recovery is measured by what they would have received had there been no cause for acceleration.
Rental acceleration clauses similar to the one in the case at bar have long been held valid in this Commonwealth. Brumbaugh v. Feldman, 47 Pa. Superior Ct. 10 (1911); American Seating Co. v. Murdock, 111 Pa. Superior Ct. 242, 169 Atl. 250 (1933). These clauses are held to be "in the nature of ...