The act of God, or of the law, is prejudicial to no one.
The apportionment of rent in case of the death of the lessor, tenant for life, or in tail, before the rent becomes payable ; as also, the death of a judgment debtor taken in execution ; the debt not being thereby discharged, though it would have been otherwise had the debtor been set at liberty by the judgment creditor himself, may be given to illustrate the first part of this maxim.
Formerly, where any lessor or landlord having only an estate for life in the lands happened to die before or on the day on which any rent was reserved or made payable, such rent, or any part thereof, was not recoverable by the executors or administrators of such lessor or landlord, nor was the person in“ reversion entitled thereto, other than for the use and occupation thereof, from the death of the tenant for life, whereby the under-tenants avoided payment ; but now, where any tenant for life shall die before or on the day on which any rent is re- served or made payable upon any demise or lease of any lands, tenements, or hereditaments which determined on the death of such tenant for life, his executors or administrators may re- cover from such under-tenant, if such under-tenant for life die on the day on which the same was payable, the whole, or, if be- fore such day, a proportion of such rent, according to the time such tenant for life lived of the last year, or portion of a year, or other time in which the rent was growing due. But where the lease made by the tenant for life does not determine with his death, the rent is not apportioned ; as where it is made by virtue of some power.
If a defendant in an action of debt die in execution, the plaintiff may have a new execution by elegit, or fieri facias and that, because the plaintiff shall not be prejudiced, nor the defendant benefited, by any act or wrong of the defendant, in non-payment of the debt, when no default is in the plaintiff, he having followed the due and ordinary course of law ; nor is the taking of the body a satisfaction of the debt, but merely a pledge for its satisfaction ; as is signified by the words of the writ, capias ad satisfaciendwm. The death of the defendant also is the act of God, which shall not turn to the prejudice of the plaintiff of his execution, which is the act of the law, and which does no wrong to any.
So, on the other hand, the case of a tenant whose house is destroyed by fire or tempest, though he is not discharged from his tenancy to the injury of his landlord, yet, he is not bound to rebuild the house, to the injury of himself. Unless indeed there be a covenant or agreement on his part to repair and keep the premises in repair, in which case, if there be no exception in case of fire, tempest, he will have to rebuild if the premises are destroyed by fire or other casualty. He must, however, continue to pay the rent, if a lessee, to the end of his term ; or, if a tenant from year to year, until he determine the tenancy by notice. Neither is the landlord bound to rebuild in case of fire, though he may have insured the premises, and received the money from the insurance office. Against all these inconveniences to the tenant, he must provide by special stipulation in the lease or agreement. This, and similar cases, will show the application of the second part of the maxim.