Legal Memorandum: Meaning of the Term "Inner Surfaces"

Issue: Under Massachusetts law, what does the term ‘inner surfaces’ mean in the context of a lease of real property?

Area of Law: Real Estate Law
Keywords: Inner surfaces; Context of a lease
Jurisdiction: Massachusetts
Cited Cases: 124 N.E. 13
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2000

No Massachusetts cases appear to define “inner surfaces” within the context of a lease.  One older case does use that term, however, in a related context.  In Conahan v. Fisher, 233 Mass. 234, 124 N.E. 13 (1919), the court considered whether a residential landlord was liable for injuries resulting from a defect in the leased premises, and held that he was not.  That holding was based on the element of control and is therefore suspect in view of more recent cases, like Young.  The court, in reaching its decision, however, noted that


[p]artition among tenants in common not infrequently resulted in the subdivision of the ownership of a house.  In all these instances the ownership of the outside wall or supporting posts ordinarily was not retained out of a deed, partition, or devise, and merely cubic space bounded by the inner surface of walls, floors and ceilings made the subject of the transaction.  A lease is merely a form of transfer of a right in real estate.  It is difficult to think of a tenement apart from enclosing and supporting parts of the building.

Id., 233 Mass. at 236 (emphasis added).  The Conahan […]

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