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Tanner v Tanner [1975] 1 WLR 1346

Whether a contractual licence will be implied in respect of allowing a woman to remain in occupation of a property whilst her children are of school age

Facts

The claimant and defendant were a couple, but were not married and did not live together as a couple. However, the claimant was the father of the defendant’s twin children. In 1970, the claimant bought a house for the defendant and the children to live in. The defendant, as a result, gave up her rent controlled property and moved into the house. In 1973, the claimant offered the defendant four thousand pounds to vacate the property and to pay her maintenance for the children instead, which had not previously been paid. The defendant refused the offer. Following this, the claimant served notice on the defendant revoking her licence to remain in the property. The defendant still refused to leave and the claimant brought an action for possession. At first instance, the order for possession was granted and the defendant was rehoused by the local authority. However, the defendant appealed the decision on the basis that a contractual licence was implied to the extent that she should be permitted to remain in the property until her children had finished their education or until such time as they no longer need accommodation.

Issue

The issue in this circumstance was whether a contractual licence could be implied in respect of the claimant being able to remain in the property until her children finished their education.

Held

It was held that the court could infer a contractual licence in these circumstances. There was no doubt that the licence had been granted by the claimant, or that reasonable notice had been given with regards to revocation. However, given that the defendant had given up a rent controlled flat to live in the house, it was clear that the defendant reasonably expected to be able to remain in the property. It was also the case that the claimant had a duty to his children and to the children’s mother. The result was that the court was able to infer a contractual licence in favour of the defendant to the extent that she should be able to remain in the property until her children had finished their education. Unfortunately for the defendant, possession had already been granted to the claimant under the initial order and therefore, the court took the view that she should receive damages of two thousand pounds for loss of the licence.


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