KANN V. KING, 204 U. S. 43 (1907)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kann v. King, 204 U.S. 43 (1907)

Kann v. King

No, 16, 17

Argued March 8, 9, 1906

Decided January 7, 1907

204 U.S. 43


Whatever power a court of equity may have to relieve a tenant from forfeiture for breach of covenant to pay taxes, it cannot require the owner to risk the loss of his property by compelling him to contest the validity of an irredeemable tax title, based on taxes not paid by the tenant, so that, if the title be invalid, the tenant may pay the taxes and be relieved of the forfeiture, nor is this rule affected by the fact that the tax title is held by a third party.

Where the forfeiture from which relief is sought has been occasioned by gross negligence of the person seeking relief, the default is not one brought about by accident or mistake.

Even if default in complying with a covenant has been brought about by accident or mistake, in the absence of culpability of the other party, a court of equity will not relieve the party in default from forfeiture unless it can be done with justice to the innocent party.

Where a lease contains a covenant to pay taxes, the fact that the owner has on some occasions collected the amount from the tenant and himself paid the taxes does not relieve the tenant from the obligation to pay the taxes according to the lease, or, where it appears that his failure to do so was not the result of the owner's conduct, relieve him from the forfeiture resulting from his breach of the covenant to pay them.

Where a tenant is in default and his lease subject to forfeiture for nonpayment of taxes for which the property has been sold, and before the landlord determines to avail of the forfeiture, he offers to condone it provided the tenant commence proceedings to have the outstanding tax title declared invalid and secure him from loss in case it be sustained and the tenant refuses so to do, no principle of equity prevents the landlord, or renders his action fraudulent, in taking any course most conducive to his own interest and not forbidden by law to regain possession of the premises and to obviate the danger of a contest as to the validity of the tax sale.

25 App.D.C. 182 reversed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 204 U. S. 47

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