Legal Updates

Property Law – Landlord and Tenant – Tenancy and Licence

The case of Mansfield District Council v Langridge [2007], concerned a dispute between a landlord and tenant in which issues were raised relating to the distinguishing factors between a tenancy and a licence. In 2004, the claimant granted a secured tenancy of a property, known as M, to the defendant. Following allegations of bad conduct against the defendant, the claimant issued possession proceedings against him.

Unfortunately, the defendant subsequently suffered a serious assault, and had to spend a considerable period of time in hospital. During his time hospital attempts were made to find suitable accommodation for him. Upon being released from hospital, he was temporarily placed in a hostel. This was because he was unsuccessful in requesting the return of the keys to property M, as the keys had been given to the claimant by his mother to enable the property to be cleaned.

He brought proceedings against the claimant, seeking an injunction requiring the return of the keys. On the 10th of August 2006, the judge made an order providing that the claimant could not exclude the defendant from property M. However, this order was not to have effect until the end of the possession proceedings.

He stated that he would have granted the injunction, but for the fact that alternative accommodation had been offered by the claimant in the form of another property, W. The defendant subsequently signed a licence agreement in relation to that property for the period from the 14th of August to the 22nd of September, the latter date being the date on which judgment in the possession proceedings was anticipated to be given.

An order for possession of property M was made on the 28th of September. Following the expiry of a notice to quit property W which had been served on the defendant, the claimant brought proceedings for the possession of that property. A possession order was made despite the defendant's argument that he had been granted a secured tenancy of that property.

The judge held that it had been the mutual intention of the parties at the time of the licence agreement that occupation should be limited in time to the delivery of the judgment in the possession proceedings. Furthermore, he held that it had not been let as a separate dwelling as required by s.79 of the Housing Act 1985 in order to constitute a secured tenancy.

The defendant appealed against this decision.

The defendant argued that the judge's decision had been misconceived, as property W was a separate dwelling.

The appeal was, however, dismissed. In this case, it had been the intention of both parties that the defendant's right to occupy property W would be limited in time to the delivery of judgment in the possession proceedings. Nothing had occurred to change that intention. It was consistent with authority that property W had not been a separate dwelling. It was decided that the right to occupy had ceased when the underlying assumption for the grant of the licence had fallen away.

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© RT COOPERS, 2007. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

 

 

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