Reid v Smith: 8 Dec 1905

(High Court of Australia) The Supreme Court of Queensland had held that the house remained a chattel. ‘The short point raised in this case is whether an ordinary dwelling-house, erected upon an ordinary town allotment in a large town, but not fastened to the soil, remains a chattel or becomes part of the freehold.’
Held: The High Court reversed the decision, treating the answer as being almost a matter of common sense. The house was made of wood, and rested by its own weight on brick piers. The house was not attached to the brick piers in any way. It was separated by iron plates placed on top of the piers, in order to prevent an invasion of white ants.
O’Connor J: ‘It would I think be stretching the rules of the common law to a point at which they cease to be rules of common sense, if it were to be laid down as a general rule that, except in very exceptional cases, wooden houses, resting by their own weight on land, could ever be regarded as mere chattels, removable at the will of the owner of the timber of which they are built.’
Griffith CJ: ‘I differ from the learned judge in thinking that it is not sufficient to show that the thing in question is a dwelling-house — an ordinary dwelling-house, on a town allotment, in an inhabited town. In the case of a similar building in another part of the country, erected under entirely different circumstances, a different conclusion might be drawn.’
Griffiths CJ, O’Connor J
[1905] 3 CLR 656, [1905] HCA 54, 12 ALR 126
Austlii
Australia
Cited by:
CitedElitestone Ltd v Morris and Another HL 1-May-1997
The plaintiff acquired land on which 27 chalets were erected. They served notice to quit so that the site could be developed. The defendants argued that they had residential tenancies with protection under the Rent Act 1977.
Held: The tenants’ . .

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Updated: 20 May 2021; Ref: scu.240413