DONALD W GRANT V BENNETT PARK PEANUT & NOVELTY COAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
DONALD W. GRANT and JANICE P.
ANDAHAZY, Co-Trustees of the JESSIE E.
October 27, 1998
BENNETT PARK PEANUT & NOVELTY
COMPANY, NETWORK PARKING, THOMAS
M. KHALIL, JUDITH A. SALE, a/k/a JUDITH
KHALIL, FARIS M. KHALIL, and DOLORES D.
Wayne Circuit Court
LC No. 96-620392 CH
Before: Whitbeck, P.J., and McDonald and T. G. Hicks*, JJ.
In this action for declaratory and injunctive relief, plaintiffs appeal as of right an order granting
summary disposition in favor of defendants. MCR 2.116(C)(10). We affirm. We decide this case
without oral argument pursuant to MCR 7.214(E).
A license gives permission to do some act or series of acts on the land of the licensor without
giving any permanent interest in the land. Macke Laundry Service Co v Overgaard, 173 Mich App
250, 254; 433 NW2d 813 (1988); United Coin Meter Co v Gibson, 109 Mich App 652, 655; 311
NW2d 442 (1981). A lease, on the other hand, gives the tenant possession of the property leased and
exclusive use or occupation of it for all purposes not prohibited by the terms of the lease. Macke,
supra at 253; Gibson, supra at 655-656. To be a valid lease, the contract must contain the names of
the parties, an adequate description of the leased premises, the length of the lease term and the amount
of rent. Macke, supra at 254; Gibson, supra at 656.
* Circuit judge, sitting on the Court of Appeals by assignment.
Generally, contractual language is interpreted according to its plain meaning. Schroeder v
Terra Energy, Ltd, 223 Mich App 176, 182; 565 NW2d 887 (1997). A court is obligated,
however, to look beyond the labels the parties assign to a document and through the form of the
document to the substance of the agreement. Rothenberg v Follman, 19 Mich App 383, 391 & n 14;
172 NW2d 845 (1969).
If we were not to look beyond the label assigned the agreement and were to give effect to the
agreement based on the plain meaning of the label, we would have to conclude that the agreement is a
license agreement. A closer examination of the terms of the agreement, however, indicates that the
agreement confers upon defendant Bennett Park and two of the individual defendants an exclusive
occupation of the land, as reflected in the terms of the agreement that require defendants to maintain the
premises and that allow defendants to erect lighting fixtures on the premises and “ropes, barricades or
other devises to limit public access to the property . . . .” Because the agreement confers an exclusive
use or occupation of the premises upon defendants, the agreement is a lease, despite its label. Macke,
supra at 253-254; Gibson, supra at 654-658; Rothenberg, supra at 391 & n 14. Further support for
the conclusion that the agreement is a lease is that the agreement specifically identifies the parties bound
by the agreement, the property by legal description, the length of the lease term and the amount of rent
to be paid. See Gibson, supra, at 657-658.
Because the agreement is a lease, and not a license, plaintiffs’ remaining claims that the court
erred when it refused to allow revocation under the legal principles governing revocation of licenses lack
merit because the factual predicate for an application of these principles, the existence of a license, is
absent. See Macke, supra at 254-255.
/s/ William C. Whitbeck
/s/ Gary R. McDonald
/s/ Timothy G. Hicks