Graysim Holdings Ltd v P and O Property Holdings Ltd: HL 24 Nov 1995

A market hall had been let to a tenant under a lease. The tenant fitted out the entire hall with stalls and entered into agreements with the stallholders, by which they paid the tenant a rent and service charge for services provided by the tenant. The head landlord served a notice to terminate the lease on the tenant, who applied for a new tenancy. Which tenant was properly the occupier, the respondent, the tenant of the enclosed market hall, or the individual stallholders with exclusive possession of their stalls?
Held: The market operator was not a tenant protected under the 1954 Act. ‘Occupancy’ for the security provisions requires some physical occupation or use by the tenant himself. There could not be more than one occupier of the same holding for the purposes of that Act. The occupation by the individual stallholders excluded the intermediate lease from protection.
Lord Nicholls: ‘first I must consider a feature central to the statutory structure: the requirement that the property must be ‘occupied’ by the tenant. As has been said on many occasions, the concept of occupation is not a legal term of art, with one single and precise legal meaning applicable in all circumstances. Its meaning varies according to the subject matter. Like most ordinary English words ‘occupied’, and corresponding expressions such as occupier and occupation, have different shades of meaning according to the context in which they are being used. Their meaning in the context of the Rent Acts, for instance, is not in all respects the same as in the context of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957.
This is not surprising. In many factual situations questions of occupation will attract the same answer, whatever the context. A tenant living alone in a detached house under a residential lease would be regarded as the sole occupier of the house. It would need an unusual context to point to any other answer. But the answer in situations which are not so clear cut is affected by the purpose for which the concept of occupation is being used. In such situations the purpose for which the distinction between occupation and non-occupation is being drawn, and the consequences flowing from the presence or absence of occupation, will throw light on what sort of activities are or are not to be regarded as occupation in the particular context. In Part II of the Act of 1954 ‘occupied’ and ‘occupied for the purposes of a business carried on by him’ are expressions employed as the means of identifying whether a tenancy is a business tenancy and whether the property is part of the holding and qualifies for inclusion in the grant of a new tenancy. In this context ‘occupied’ points to some business activity by the tenant on the property in question. The Act seeks to protect the tenant in his continuing use of the property for the purposes of that activity. Thus the word carries a connotation of some physical use of the property by the tenant for the purposes of his business.’


Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead


Gazette 17-Jan-1996, Times 24-Nov-1995, [1995] 3 WLR 854, [1996] 1 AC 329, [1996] 3 EG 124, [1995] 4 ALL ER 831


Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Part II


England and Wales


Appeal fromGraysim Holdings Ltd v P and O Property Holdings Ltd CA 2-Mar-1994
‘Occupation’ by a tenant does not require physical occupation by him for him to have the right to renew the lease under the Act. A market operator letting all the stalls in a market area was a protected tenant. . .
CitedWandsworth London Borough Council v Singh CA 1991
The Local Authority were lessees of some 500 square metres of public open space at St. Johns Hill in Wandsworth, which they and their horticultural sub-contractors visited periodically. It had been used by local inhabitants for leisure and . .

Cited by:

Reversed on appealGraysim Holdings Ltd v P and O Property Holdings Ltd CA 2-Mar-1994
‘Occupation’ by a tenant does not require physical occupation by him for him to have the right to renew the lease under the Act. A market operator letting all the stalls in a market area was a protected tenant. . .
CitedEarl Cadogan, Cadogan Estates Limited v Search Guarantees Plc CA 27-Jul-2004
The tenant of a house had subdivided it and let off the flats. He sought to acquire the freehold.
Held: Where none of the subtenants themselves had qualifying leases, the head tenant could be in sufficient occupation to be able to buy the . .
CitedBacchiocchi v Academic Agency Limited CA 20-Feb-1998
The ‘continuous occupation’ required of a tenant to support a claim for disturbance on the non-renewal of his lease under the Act is not to be lost for the normal incidents of business life. The tenant had anticipated the non-renewal of the tenancy . .
CitedClear Channel United Kingdom Ltd, Regina (on the Application of) v First Secretary of State and Another Admn 14-Oct-2004
The claimant sought a declaration that it had a tenancy for its occupation by an advertising station, and that it had protection under the 1954 Act. The defendant council said that only a licence had been granted.
Held: The grants included the . .
CitedPointon York Group Plc v Poulton CA 13-Jul-2006
The lease included a right to use seven designated parking spaces. The parties disputed whether parking space could be occupied in such a way as to be given protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.
Held: A parking space is an . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Landlord and Tenant

Updated: 08 April 2022; Ref: scu.80999