Cash rent lease for indefinite term did not violate 10-year limitations period because it contained opt-out provision.

In March of 2007, a landowner entered into a written lease, agreeing to rent 68 acres of tillable land to the lessee for a set price. The lease provided no end-date, but did state that the lessee could “opt out” of the lease at any time and that if the landowner was to sell the property, the lessee would have a right of first refusal to purchase it.  In October 2011, the landowner and the plaintiff executed a five-year written "cash rent agreement” for the same land for 2012 through 2016. In May 2012, the plaintiff brought an eviction action against the lessee and the landowner, arguing that the lessee’s lease was invalid under N.D.C.C. §47-16-02, which invalidated agricultural leases that were for a term of more than 10 years. The trial court entered judgment for the lessee, finding that under Anderson v. Blixt, 72 N.W.2d 799 (N.D. 1955), the 2007 agreement was not void because (due to the contingencies), it could be performed within 10 years.  In affirming the judgment, the court ruled that the contingencies allowing the lessee to opt or the landowner to sell the property meant that the lease could be performed within a 10-year term, so as not to violate N.D.C.C. §47-16-02.  As in Anderson, the court did not determine whether the lease would be invalid if it were to extend beyond 10 years. Anderson v. Lyons, No. 20130284, 2014 ND 61; 2014 N.D. LEXIS 62 (N.D. Sup. Ct. Apr. 3, 2014).