Cresswell v Hodgson: CA 1951

The landlord sought possession. The tenant had a controlled tenancy. L offered the tenant another house (one he had built) as alternative accommodation. The rent was higher. The landlord was under pressure from his bank and wanted capital to pay off his overdraft. He wanted to sell the tenanted house with vacant possession at an unrestricted price, whereas the maximum price at which he could sell the house he had built was restricted.
Held: The landlord’s appeal was dismissed, the court holding that the judge had taken into account the factors he should have done. The judge had properly considered both sides – the positions of both the landlord and the tenant, and found the offered alternative accommodation suitable but that it would not be reasonable to make the order: its making would represent nothing but loss to the tenant and nothing but very substantial gain to the landlord. As to the reasonableness of making an order for possession, Parliament had given the judge in the county court a very wide discretion, and that the Court of Appeal should not say anything that restricted the circumstances he should take into consideration. Denning LJ thought that the word ‘reasonable’ meant ‘reasonable having regard to the interests of the parties concerned and also reasonable having regard to the interests of the public’.
Somervell LJ said: ‘I think the words of the section themselves indicate that the county court judge must look at the effect of the order on each party to it. I do not see how it is possible to consider whether it is reasonable to make an order unless you consider its effect on landlord and tenant, firstly, if you make it, and secondly, if you do not. I do not think we should say anything which restricts the circumstances which the county court judge should take into consideration. I think he is entitled to take into consideration that this is a case where the landlord is making a pecuniary gain. That might in other cases be a fact in the landlord’s favour, and it might be thought reasonable that he should be given the chance of making pecuniary gain.’
Singleton LJ said: ‘It seems to me that if a county court judge, in a case of this kind, found that the landlord was in dire financial straits – and landlords sometimes are – whereas the tenant was well-to-do, that would be a matter which the county court judge could consider. Equally, if he found that the tenant would be put into grave difficulty by the making of the order whereas the landlord would not be in any difficulty, because he had more means, again I think that is a matter for consideration.’ Because the tenant’s employment gave him a rent allowance that would cover the increased rent at the alternative accommodation, he was in a much better position than most tenants and that ‘it may well be that many persons might not have come to the conclusion at which the county court judge arrived.’ But as the question of fact was for the judge, and he had not erred in principle or made a mistake in law, his decision must be upheld.


Somervell LJ, Denning LJ, and Singleton LJ


[1951] 1 All ER 710, [1951] 2 KB 92


England and Wales

Cited by:

AppliedBattlespring Ltd v Gates CA 1983
The tenant had occupied the house for 35 years. She resisted an application by her landlord to rehouse her. She had brought up her family there and did want to leave.
Held: The landlord’s appeal was dismissed. The landlord’s interest which was . .
CitedMoat Housing Group-South Ltd v Harris and Another CA 16-Mar-2005
The defendant family was served without notice with an anti-social behaviour order ordering them to leave their home immediately, and making other very substantial restrictions. The evidence in large part related to other people entirely.
CitedWhitehouse v Lee CA 14-May-2009
The tenant appealed against an order requiring her to give up possession of her flat, held under the 1977 Act, saying that the court should not have found it reasonable to make an order after finding alternative accommodation suitable.
Held: . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Housing, Landlord and Tenant

Updated: 02 June 2022; Ref: scu.221514