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Governors of Rugby School v Tannahill [1935] 1 K.B. 87

Property law – Landlord and tenant – Forfeiture

Facts

There was a lease between the plaintiff and defendant which contained a clause requiring that the land was not used for any illegal or immoral purpose. The defendant was subsequently convicted for using the premises for prostitution, in contravention of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. The plaintiff gave a notice of forfeiture to the defendant under the Law of Property Act 1925, section 146, for breaking the covenant contained in their agreement regarding illegal activity. The defendant appealed this on the basis that the notice did not afford an opportunity to provide a remedy for the action. The defendant also argued the fact that there was evidence that showed the tenant was aware, and actively permitted the premises to be used for criminal actions. The trial judge found in favour of the plaintiff and found that the contravention could not be remedied. The defendant appealed the decision.

Issue

The court was required to decide whether the discontinuance of the criminal activity could be considered to provide a remedy to the breach that the tenant had caused. If a remedy for the action could be found, this would restrict the right of the landlord to enforce the claim of forfeiture.

Held

The court dismissed the appeal. It was held that just because the tenant had ceased the criminal act, this did not mean that the breach had been remedied. Nor could the breach be remedied under the circumstances, and therefore this did not invalidate the notice given under the Law of Property Act 1925.


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