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Strand Securities v Caswell [1965] Ch 958

A person can occupy land on behalf of another to create an overriding interest.

Facts:

The tenant of a property granted an underlease to the respondent. The subtenant applied to have the underlease registered at the land registry. However, this was not done. At the time that the head tenant transferred the headlease to the plaintiff, the subtenant’s stepdaughter had been living in the property, having been let in and allowed to stay there rent free by the subtenant, who was not living there at the time, to satisfy a moral obligation. On obtaining the headlease the plaintiff sought possession of the property against the subtenant.

Issues:

The subtenant claimed he had an overriding interest under s.70(1)(g) Land Registration Act 1925 which bound the plaintiff. Under the 1925 Act the interest of a person who is in actual occupation of the land overrides a registered disposition. If the subtenant had an overriding interest the plaintiff could not possess the property. 

Held:

To have an overriding interest it was necessary to have an interest in the land and be in actual occupation. Because the stepdaughter had no interest in the land, she could not be in actual occupation. Having her belongings there was not sufficient to establish an interest in the land. A person could occupy land on behalf of another person, but not if they were occupying the land on their own account. The stepdaughter was not occupying the land as the subtenant’s agent. Therefore, the subtenant did not have an overriding interest either. However, the underlease should have been registered on application and the court held the register should be rectified to reflect this.


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