Legal Memorandum: Examination of Lease Terms in VI

Issue: In the Virgin Islands, whether a public stairway is part of the leased premises under the terms of the lease.

Area of Law: Real Estate Law
Keywords: Terms of the lease; Probable intention of the parties; Examining
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 834 F. Supp. 1335; 284 N.E.2d 588; 89 N.E.2d 209; 172 N.E.2d 705; 366 F. Supp. 1229; 167 A.2d 712; 391 N.E.2d 948
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2006

While a lease is ordinarily to be construed more strongly against the lessor, the meaning of a lease provision must be determined by examining not only the language used, but the whole contract, its subject matter, and ultimately the probable intention of the parties.  Connelly v. Zee, 366 F. Supp. 1229 (D.V.I. 1973).

  • Monterosso v. Gaudette, 391 N.E.2d 948 (Mass. App. Ct. 1979) (whether an area appurtenant to a tenant’s leased premises is within the landlord’s control is a question for the jury).
  • Sanford v. Belemyessi, 284 N.E.2d 588 (Mass. 1972) (Rear entrance and porch leading exclusively to tenant’s leased premises, which only the tenant had a right to use, and across which the tenant had erected a gate “was part of the demised premises.”).
  • Minkkinen v. Nyman, 89 N.E.2d 209 (Mass. 1949) (Outdoor staircase leading only to second floor leased premises were part of the demised premises and within the control of the tenant.).
  • Dias v. Woodrow, 172 N.E.2d 705 (Mass. 1961) (Entranceway leading exclusively to commercial tenant’s premises is not in the landlord’s control, even if he undertakes to maintain it.).
  • Rogers v. Great Atl. & Pac. Tea Co., 167 A.2d 712 (Conn. 1961) (Where lease gives tenant the exclusive use of a parking lot adjacent to leased premises, […]

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