Long v Tower Hamlets London Borough Council: ChD 20 Mar 1996

The parties had agreed for a lease, and the tenant entered possession, but no formal lease was executed. The tenant stopped paying rent in 1977 or 1984. He now claimed rectification of the registers to show him as proprietor. The landlord argued that as a lease in writing, time ran from the notice to quit. The tenant denied that it was lease in writing since no estate was disposed.
Held: A written document does not have to be a deed in order to be a ‘writing’. The document was therefore in writing, though not a deed. However: ‘a written document, whatever its terms, however clearly referable to the existence of a lease, and however comprehensive it may be in setting out the terms of the lease, is not a ‘lease in writing’ for the purposes of para 5(1) of Schedule 1 to the Limitation Act 1980 unless at law the document itself operates to ‘pass an interest’.’ The court considered the tenant’s argument that as a reversionary lease it had to be created by deed. The earlier statute prohibited a lease where the total length of the term and te period before it commenced exceeded three years being created by parol. It did not prevent shorter lease being so created. In 1925 the position changed since the 1925 Act referred to interests taking effect in possession: ‘the effect of the Law of Property Act 1925 was to make equally unenforceable both an oral executory agreement to grant a lease (section 40) and an oral attempt to grant a lease taking effect in possession in the future (section 54(2)), and, accordingly, to put an end to the need to distinguish between those oral transactions for a future tenancy which, as a matter of construction, took effect as mere agreements, and were thus unenforceable by virtue of section 4 of the Statute of Frauds, and those oral transactions which, as a matter of construction, took effect as leases, and thus fell within the exception in section 2 of the Statute of Frauds.’
Munby QC J
[1996] EWHC Ch 1, [1996] 2 All ER 683, [1996] 3 WLR 317, [1997] 1 EGLR 78, [1998] Ch 197
Bailii
Limitation Act 1980 15(1), Law of Property Act 1925
England and Wales
Citing:
CitedBuckinghamshire County Council v Moran CA 13-Feb-1989
The parties’ respective properties were separated by a fence or hedge and the true owner had no access to the disputed land. In 1967 the Defendants’ predecessors in title began to maintain the land by mowing the grass and trimming the hedges and . .
CitedSmirk v Lyndale Developments Ltd ChD 1975
The court considered the doctrine that a tenant acquiring title to land by adverse possession, did so on behalf of hs landlord.
Held: The cases demonstrated that ‘the law . . has got into something of a tangle’, but the doctrine, at least as . .
CitedRawlins v Turner 1699
To be effective a lease by parole for three years must be for three years computed from the time of the agreement, and not from some a future date. ‘No lease by parol is good which imports to convey an interest for more than three years from the . .
Still good lawRyley v Hicks 1725
A lease by parol for less than three years from the making of it and stated to take effect at a future day are not within the Statute of Frauds: ‘In Middlesex, coram Raymond, Chief Justice.
Leases by parol for less than three years from the . .
CitedInman v Stamp 1815
. .
CitedMoses v Lovegrove CA 29-Apr-1952
The tenant had gone into possession under an oral agreement with a rent book. He ceased to pay rent or acknowledge the landlord’s right in 1938. In 1952 the landlord sought to recover possession, and now appealed a finding that the tenant had . .
CitedKushner v Law Society 1952
. .
CitedEdge v Strafford CExc 1831
The case of Ryley v Hicks was not overruled by Inman v Stamp. Rylet stood as good authority that ‘a lease, though it were to commence in futuro, would be within the exception in the statute of frauds, if it did not exceed three years from the . .
CitedRollason v Leon 1861
The tenancy document, properly construed, purported to take effect as a tenancy and not as a mere agreement to grant a tenancy. . .
CitedWright v Macadam KBD 1949
The court considered the exceptions to the rule that a right in fact enjoyed with property will pass on a conveyance of the property by virtue of the grant to be read into the conveyance by virtue of section 62. One exception was if the right was . .
CitedLord Bolton v Tomlin 1836
. .
CitedFoster v Reeves CA 1892
An agreement was made on May 12 1890 for a tenancy for three years to commence on June 24 1890 and thereafter from year to year until determined. The landlord sued to recover rent after the tenant had given up possession. The tenant argued that no . .
CitedWalsh v Lonsdale CA 1882
Lonsdale purported to grant to Walsh a seven year lease with rent payable in advance. The lease was not embodied in a deed, and when Walsh went into possession, an annual tenancy with rent payable in arrear was created. Walsh did not pay in advance, . .
CitedHand v Hall CA 1877
An agreement was made on January 26 1876 for a tenancy until Midsummer 12 months from February 14 1876.
Held: The agreement operated as a devise within the exception in section 2 of the Statute of Frauds. . .
CitedParker v Briggs CA 1893
‘the appellants contend . . that a parol lease to commence at a future date was in point of law and in fact an agreement for a lease, and as such must be in writing under section 4 of the Statute of Frauds, even though the lease agreed to be granted . .
CitedFoster v Reeves CA 1892
An agreement was made on May 12 1890 for a tenancy for three years to commence on June 24 1890 and thereafter from year to year until determined. The landlord sued to recover rent after the tenant had given up possession. The tenant argued that no . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 05 February 2021; Ref: scu.263761