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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vendor liable to tenants for winter wheat revenue lost when rental property sold

The Superior Court has awarded a couple the revenue associated with a wheat crop they lost when their landlord sold a farm out from underneath them. The defendant, Wendy Wilson, was the owner of two farms.  In 2002, she decided, after decades of carrying on a farming operation, to rent out her two farms.  The plaintiffs, Leslie and Tammy Young, were a husband and wife team who own approximately 600 acres of land and rent a further 1,000 acres on which they grow various crops including corn, soybeans and wheat.  They leased the two farms from Wilson and had already planted winter wheat on one of the farms in the fall of 2007 when they discovered that Wilson had listed the property for sale. 

Ms. Wilson sold the farm in question on April 30, 2008, with a closing date of May 2008. There is evidence, which was accepted by the judge in this case, that the purchaser knew that the crop of wheat was as a result of a tenant’s efforts. The judge also accepted that the purchaser was told by the vendor’s agent, that the tenant’s input costs were $9,000.00, which the purchaser agreed to pay. The purchaser did not deal directly with the tenant. This litigation arose because Ms. Wilson sold the purchaser a crop of wheat which she did not own.

The wheat crop was valued at more than $43,000 and the court awarded damages to the plaintiffs in this amount.

Read the decision at: Young v. Wilson.