HARRIS, Associate Judge:
This action for the possession of leased real property was initiated in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of the Civil Division of the Superior Court. Following preliminary matters not here relevant, the date set for trial arrived. Prior to the introduction of any evidence, the District of Columbia, which effectively is appellant's landlord, orally moved for a judgment on the pleadings. Following argument thereon, the trial court took the matter under advisement. The motion thereafter was granted. We reverse, and remand the case for trial.
The absence of an evidentiary record limits a recitation of the facts. Appellant Amberger & Wohlfarth, Inc., is a plumbing and heating contractor. For some 25 years, it has operated its business out of a two-story building at the corner of 41st and Chesapeake Streets, N.W.
In early 1970, the District of Columbia determined to raise the rent on the property. (The idea of widening Chesapeake Street apparently had been abandoned.) The District of Columbia's rental agent, H. L. Rust Company, approached appellant for this purpose. A one-year lease was entered into for the period March 1, 1970, through February 28, 1971, at an increased monthly rental of $260.00.
Subsequent to the execution of that lease, appellant and the government's rental agent entered into discussions for the future. Appellant was interested in an extensive renovation of the premises, and asked for a five-year lease. Although the record contains no testimony (or even affidavits), apparently appellant was told that while reasons of policy precluded a five-year lease, it could be assured of five annual renewals of the one-year lease. Rightly or wrongly, justifiably or unjustifiably, appellant concluded that it had what it wanted (i. e., an assurance of five further years of occupancy), and undertook the renovation at a cost which was more than double the entire annual rental for the building.
Prior to the expiration of the written one-year lease, the government determined to make other use of the building. Appellant was give a 30-day notice to vacate, but declined to do so, as a consequence of which the District of Columbia filed its complaint for possession on January 21, 1972.
As noted, on the day scheduled for trial, the government orally moved for judgment on the pleadings.
The trial court's written opinion was carefully reasoned. Reliance was placed upon statutes which essentially provide that any agreement involving an interest in real estate which purportedly is for a term in excess of one year must be in writing to be enforceable.
It is appellant's contention that the promise of five one-year renewals reached the level of being equivalent to a promise for the full five years. We have no way of knowing what evidence appellant may be able to develop, and ultimately the trial court's reasoning may prove to be wholly valid. Nonetheless, the factual determination which is indispensable to a proper resolution of this controversy can only be made on the basis of evidence adduced at trial, and appellant should have
Reversed and remanded.
D.C.Code 1967, § 28-3502:
The trial court also cited D.C.Code 1967, § 45-819, which provides: "An estate expressed to be from year to year shall be good for one year only." We do not consider the dispute to involve an estate "expressed to be from year to year", and hence view Section 45-819 as not relevant to the decision herein. See Soper v. Myers, 45 App.D.C. 286 (1916); Morse v. Brainerd, 42 App.D.C. 448 (1914).