Plaintiff in this suit brings an action for possession of certain lands, and mesne profits, now occupied by defendants. Defendants have filed answer denying plaintiff's right to possession attaching thereto a photostatic copy of a lease entered into with plaintiff and setting up defendants' rights to possession thereunder. Defendant, Esso Standard Oil Co., further counterclaims for specific performance arising from its exercise of an option to purchase, contained in the aforesaid lease agreement.
After the filing of the answer and the counterclaim, plaintiff moved for summary judgment, and to dismiss the answer and counterclaim.
The affidavits, inter alia , plaintiff contends, resolve the factual issues upon the right to possession under the aforesaid lease, and substantiate her right to a judgment for immediate possession under Rule 3:56-3, Rules of the Superior Court. Defendant, Esso Standard Oil Company, filed answering affidavits and thereby claims to have raised an issue of fact.
The property in question is a tract of land in the Township of Woodbridge, Middlesex County, and is adjacent to Route 25. Under date of August 15, 1939, the defendant, Esso Standard Oil Co., hereinafter referred to as Esso, executed a contract of lease with plaintiff wherein it leased the land from plaintiff for a period of ten years. Esso, thereafter, constructed a gas station upon the lands, which building, along with later added improvements, now constitutes the property. Defendant, Spanko, is a tenant of Esso.
The pivotal question we are concerned with is, when did this lease agreement go into effect and when the 10-year period would necessarily come to an end. Plaintiff contends that the term (of lease) commenced on August 15, 1939, the date of the signing by the parties to the contract of lease. Defendants argue that a clause in said contract specified payment of rent to commence three days after completion of
the gas station, which date in fact occurred January 6, 1940, and that the term of lease runs from that date.
Plaintiff commenced this suit by filing the complaint on October 6, 1949, or approximately two months after the date she claims the term expired; on the other hand, if defendants are sound in their contention, they had the right of possession until January 6, 1950.
The pertinent sections of the lease follow:
"AGREEMENT, made this*fn* Fifteenth day of August , in the year 1939 by and between Marion Speirs hereinafter called Lessor and Standard Oil Company of New Jersey , a Delaware corporation hereinafter called Lessee.
"WITNESSETH: Lessor does hereby demise and lease unto Lessee, and Lessee agrees to take all that lot, piece or parcel of land situate in the Township of Woodbridge , County of ...