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GRACE C. RIPPLE AND DORIS M. MCILVANE v. PITTSBURGH OUTDOOR ADVERTISING CORPORATION (07/25/80)

filed: July 25, 1980.

GRACE C. RIPPLE AND DORIS M. MCILVANE, CO-EXECUTORS OF THE ESTATE OF FREDA C. BECKER, DECEASED
v.
PITTSBURGH OUTDOOR ADVERTISING CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, APPELLANT



Nos. 147 and 368 April Term, 1979, Appeal from Orders dated January 31, 1979, and April 17, 1979, in the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County at No. GD 78-1396.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Hillen, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Thomas H. Welsh, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Price, Hester and Cavanaugh, JJ.

Author: Cavanaugh

[ 280 Pa. Super. Page 123]

Pittsburgh Outdoor Advertising Corporation, the tenant, appeals the lower court's order that certain leases for a term in excess of three years violated the statute of frauds and therefore were deemed to be leases from year to year. We affirm.

Appellees, Grace C. Ripple and Doris M. McIlvane, co-executrixes of the Estate of Freda C. Becker, filed a petition seeking declaratory relief. They asked the court to determine their rights under certain leases executed by the husband of their predecessor in title. Since the facts were undisputed, the case was submitted to the lower court on briefs.

Charles G. Becker and Freda C. Becker, husband and wife, owned certain property as tenants by the entireties. In 1972 this property was the subject of two written leases to the appellant for a term of five years with the appellant's right to extend the lease from year to year for a total of ten

[ 280 Pa. Super. Page 124]

    years. The leases were signed by an agent of the appellant and were also signed "Charles G. Becker and Freda Becker by: /s/ Charles G. Becker." Rental payments were made quarterly by checks payable to Charles G. Becker and Freda Becker and were endorsed by both until Mr. Becker's death in 1976. Thereafter the checks were still made payable to both Beckers, but were endorsed by Mrs. Becker or her attorney-in-fact until Mrs. Becker's death in 1977. Thereafter checks payable to both Beckers were endorsed by Grace C. Ripple, co-executrix of the Estate of Freda Becker.

Based on these facts, the lower court held that the leases violated the statute of frauds since Mrs. Becker did not sign the lease or authorize her husband in writing to sign the lease on her behalf. Since the rent was paid and accepted for more than one year, the statute of frauds deemed the lease to be from year to year. Appellant filed exceptions which were denied and then filed the instant appeal.

The statute of frauds provides:

Real property, including any personal property thereon, may be leased for a term of more than three years by a landlord to a tenant or by their respective agents lawfully authorized in writing. Any such lease must be in writing and signed by the parties making or creating the same, otherwise it shall have the force and effect of a lease at will only and shall not be given any greater force or effect either in law or equity, notwithstanding any consideration therefor, unless the tenancy has continued for more than one year and the landlord and tenant have ...


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