Moses 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 acquired the title to the property by adverse possession.
Held: A rent book did not constitute a tenancy agreement, or lease in writing. Evershed MR said: ‘The alleged lease in writing consisted of the rent book, which was put in evidence. The judge rejected the view that the rent book was such a lease in writing within the meaning of the Act, and I think he was entirely right in that conclusion.
The rent book is, I think, what it purports to be, and what it is called, a rent book, that is, a book containing acknowledgements for payment of weekly sums of rent, and containing also, in pursuance of the terms of the legislation, a reference to the conditions on which the tenant was holding his tenancy. I think that on the face of it, it was not intended to be, and is not, a contract for granting a tenancy, still less a lease creating an estate.’ and ‘The notion of adverse possession, which is enshrined now in section 10, is not new; the section is a statutory enactment of the law in regard to the matter as it had been laid down by the courts in interpreting the earlier Limitation Statutes.’
Romer LJ said: ‘The tenancy was quite obviously an oral weekly tenancy, with the result that time started to run by virtue of section 9 of the Limitation Act, 1939, from one week after the last payment of rent, which was on May 28, 1938.’ and
‘As no notice to quit was given, the tenant could not thereafter be said to be in immediate adverse possession in the ordinary sense, for he remained on under his contractual tenancy. Nevertheless, for the purposes of the Limitation Act, 1939, his tenancy ceased to exist, and therefore he is deemed to have remained on in adverse possession. Accordingly, the fact that for some purposes his contractual right remained in the absence of a notice to quit a writ for possession is irrelevant, as also is the precise date on which the lessor could properly have started proceedings in ejectment. The point is that after the expiration of one week from the date of the last payment of rent, the defendant is deemed to have had no contractual right to possession, and therefore to have been a trespasser or a squatter.
Why should he be regarded as being in possession by virtue of permission or grant of the owner merely because of the passing of the Rent Act of 1939?’ and
‘It seems to me that one can, in addition to looking at position and rights of the owner, legitimately look also at the position of the occupier for the purpose of seeing whether his occupation is adverse. In my opinion, if one looks to the position of the occupier and finds that his occupation, his right to occupation, is derived from the owner in the form of permission or agreement or grant, it is not adverse, but if it is not so derived, then it is adverse, even if the owner is, by legislation, prevented from bringing ejectment proceedings.’


Sir Raymond Evershed MR, Birkett and Romer LJJ


[1952] 2 QB 533, [1952] 1 The Times LR 1324


Limitation Act 1939 9(2) 10


England and Wales


CitedWarren v Murray 1894
A person went into possession of land under a contract to grant him a lease for 99 years, but no lease was ever granted.
Held: In the absence of a lease he was no more that a tenant at will, which tenancy could be determined at any time, but . .
CitedIn re Joll Gathercole v Norfolk 1900
Collins LJ said: ‘At the end of the 12 years the possession of a tenant who has paid no rent becomes adverse during the whole time the adverse possession is validated by the statute, and it is not competent for the landlord to say that he still . .

Cited by:

CitedLong v Tower Hamlets London Borough Council ChD 29-Mar-1996
The landlord’s agents wrote to the proposed tenant offering a quarterly tenancy of the premises. The tenancy was to commence at a future date. The defendant endorsed the letter and returned it to say he would abide by the terms, and he was allowed . .
CitedGoomti Ramnarace v Harrypersad Lutchman PC 21-May-2001
(Trinidad and Tobago) The defendant had gone into possession of land by consent, and many years later declined to leave. The claimant said the period of her adverse possession was insufficient but she claimed a tenancy. The claimant asserted that . .
CitedLong 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 . .
CitedHayward v Chaloner CA 1968
The alleged tenant (the rector of a parish) knew that rent should have been paid but had not paid it. ‘Only one of the previous rectors gave evidence. He was the Rev. Richard Phillips (dates) He knew the rectory cottages and said that the land . .
CitedLodge (T/A JD Lodge) v Wakefield Metropolitan Council CA 21-Mar-1995
The plaintiff had formerly been a tenant of the defendant under an informal tenancy. No rent had been paid since 1974. He claimed to have acquired the land by adverse possession. He gave evidence at trial that if he had been asked to pay rent at any . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Landlord and Tenant, Limitation

Updated: 11 May 2022; Ref: scu.223190