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Bruton v London & Quadrant Housing Trust [1999] UKHL 26

Property law – Landlord and tenant – Leases

Facts

The defendant was a voluntary housing trust that focussed on homelessness. The local authority had granted the trust a licence to use short-life properties as temporary accommodation for homeless people who were on the waiting list for a home, before these properties were later developed. B signed an agreement to use one of the properties on a weekly licence. The contract stated that B would have to vacate the premises upon receipt of reasonable notice. B later brought proceedings that the trust was in breach of implied terms to keep the premises in good working order. The key issue was whether B would be considered as a tenant or licensee under the circumstances. The trial judge found that B was a licensee and B’s appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. B appealed again

Issue

It was important for the court to consider the nature of the trust, as a landlord, and the construction of the agreement between the parties. Specifically, the trust submitted that B had acknowledged that one of the terms in the agreement between the parties was that B did not have the status of being a tenant and was only a licensee.

Held

The court found that as the trust had granted B exclusive possession of the property; this had created a tenancy agreement. The court also found that the nature of the landlord did not come into question. It did not matter that B had contracted to understand that the agreement was not a tenancy agreement as the trust could not contract out of the relevant statute.


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