Crawley Borough Council v Sawyer: CA 1987

The court considered whether a tenancy had ceased to be secure by reason of the tenant’s failure to continue to fulfil the condition set by section 81 of the Act of 1985, namely occupation of the property ‘as his only or principal home’. For about a year the secure tenant had gone to live with his girlfriend and had thereafter returned to the property. During that period he had paid rent and rates, visited the property once a month and at some stage had spent a week back there. His evidence was that he had not abandoned the property and had had every intention of returning to it. The trial judge found that, even during that period of about a year, the property had remained, if not his only home, at least his ‘principal home’ for the purpose of section 81 and so the local authority was not entitled to possession of it.
Held: The judge had been entitled to conclude that the tenant had been living with his girlfriend only on a temporary basis and that, indeed, his principal home remained the property during that period.
Parker LJ: ‘Going through the whole thread of these matters is the common principle that, in order to occupy premises as a home, first, there must be signs of occupation – that is to say, there must be furniture and so forth so that the house can be occupied as a home – and, secondly, there must be an intention, if not physically present, to return to it.’


Parker LJ


(1987) 20 HLR 98


Housing Act 1985 81


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedSteven We Ping Wall v Sheffield City Council CA 23-Mar-2006
The appellant had been fostered by the deceased, and on her death continued to live in her house held under a secure tenancy of the respondent. The council sought possession, saying that he was not a member of the deceased’s family within section . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 23 March 2022; Ref: scu.241562