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Antonaides v Villiers  1 AC 417
Occupiers signed agreement expressly stated to be a license; whether agreement a sham
Mr Villiers and his partner signed separate but identical agreements to occupy a one bedroom flat owned by Mr Antonaides, where they would live as husband and wife. The written agreements were stated to be licenses. The agreements expressly stated the Rent Acts did not apply, that the couple did not hold exclusive possession and the occupation was shared with both Mr Antonaides, and any other occupants who he may permit to use the rooms. Mr Antonaides sought possession of the flat.
Mr Antonaides claimed the agreements were explicitly stated to be licenses, the couple had no right to exclusive possession, there was no limit to the number of persons who could occupy the flat under the agreement, and he had the right to share the flat with them. Therefore, he claimed, the agreement had none of the characteristics of a tenancy, and the couple did not have the statutory protections afforded by the Rent Acts. The couple contended the agreement was a sham designed to avoid the conferment of a joint tenancy so as to avoid the relationship between the parties being governed by the Rent Acts. The occupation was in substance and effect a tenancy, and the fact that it was labelled as a license is irrelevant.
The agreement was held to be a lease and the agreement was a sham designed to avoid the provisions of the Rent Acts. The landlord knew the couple were to occupy the one bedroom flat as husband and wife, and it would be ridiculous to suppose he contemplated sharing the flat with them, or that he genuinely intended other persons be permitted to do this under the agreement.
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