Document Type


Publication Date



In McCullough Realty Co. v. Laemmle Film Service, (Nov. 16, 1917), 165 N. W. 33, the supreme court of Iowa had occasion to pass upon a question which has become increasingly frequent with the spread of prohibition laws, namely, the effect upon the obligation of a tenant to pay rent, of a subsequent law that makes it unlawful for him to use the premises for the purpose for which he leased them. The case before the Iowa court was not one arising out of a lease of premises for saloon purposes, but the question involved was precisely the same, and the saloon cases were relied upon for the decision. The action was for rent upon a written lease containing the following clause: "Said premises are leased for Film Exchange and film and theatre supplies purposes only and are not to be used for any unlawful or offensive purposes whatever." The defendant contended that by reason of a city ordinance, passed after the demise, providing that it should be unlawful to store, handle, etc. any inflammable motion picture films in buildings which are not fireproof, it had become impossible to use the premises for the purposes for which they were leased. The lessee had vacated the premises. It appeared that the handling of films was 99 per-cent of the business of a film exchange, and that it was wholly impracticable to keep the films at one place and have the office at another. Being of opinion that "the entire beneficial use of the leased premises was prevented by the ordinance", the court held the defendant freed of the obligation to pay rent.