Bérubé owned a subdivision, and prior to 1990 the lots did not have water or sewage plumbing. In order to sell the land, he offered lots of one acre with the condition that after the water and sewage had been installed all of the lot would be sold back to Bérubé except for a 100' x 100' plot. The lots cost $5,000. Bérubé sold one of the lots with the condition that the sale was to be closed on August 1, 1985, or whenever the water and sewage were installed. The sewage was not installed by the village of Eel Crossing until 1990. The agreement also stated that it would ensure the benefit and be binding to heirs, executors, administrators and assignees. This interest was subsequently sold a few times, and the final time that it was sold the contract mistakenly stated that only a 100' x 100' piece of the lot was to be given back to Bérubé. The Babins refuse to be bound by the original conditions.
- Did the original agreement end on August 1, 1985?
- Is the agreement void because it violates the rule against perpetuities?
Case dismissed with costs.
Larlee finds that the meaning of the contract was that it was to close whenever the water and sewage were installed, and as there was no specified period in the agreement this implied that it could not perpetuate longer then the perpetuity period (21 years). Therefore it is void for offending the rule against perpetuities. Theoretically, the water and sewage could have been installed 25 years later. If there is no limitation included in the deed then you do not try to determine what the grantor intended, you simply have to apply the rule against perpetuities regardless of the grantor's (or testator's) wishes
- A deed for the transfer of land is void if it violates the rule against perpetuities.
- If a deed purports to remain open for longer than the life in being plus the perpetuity period (21 years) then it violates the rule against perpetuities.
- If there are no lives in being, and no perpetuity period is stated in the deed, then it is void under the rule against perpetuities because it could be more than 21 years – the court will not infer a perpetuity period of 21 years if one is not specifically included.