Watts v Stewart and Others: CA 8 Dec 2016

The court considered the status of residents of almshouses, and in particular whether they were licensees or tenants with associated security.
Held: The occupier’s appeal failed: ‘We do not accept the proposition that, if and insofar as Mrs Watts was a beneficiary of the Charity, her occupation was that of tenant at will of the trustees. The status of a beneficiary occupying trust property will depend upon the terms and conditions on which the occupation was permitted. The beneficiary may be the tenant for life under a settlement. The terms of the trust may expressly permit the trustees to grant a tenancy or a licence to a beneficiary on particular terms. If a beneficiary is permitted to occupy trust property without any express terms stated or agreed and without any governing provision of the trust instrument to throw light on those terms and conditions, the occupation status of the beneficiary will depend upon the proper conclusion to be drawn from all the admissible evidence as to whether it was intended that the beneficiary should occupy as licensee or in some other capacity. In the present case, for the reasons we have given, the terms on which Mrs Watts was permitted to occupy the property excluded the grant of legal possession. There is simply no scope in those circumstances to infer the grant of a tenancy at will.’

Sir Terence Etherton MR, Arden DBE, Lloyd Jones LJJ
[2016] EWCA Civ 1247, [2016] WLR(D) 666, [2017] 1 P and CR DG18, [2017] L and TR 24, [2017] 2 WLR 1107, [2017] HLR 8
Bailii, WLRD
England and Wales
CitedAllan v Liverpool Overseers 1874
The court was asked whether a steamship company was liable to be rated in respect of its occupation of sheds which it occupied under a licence from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. The court noted that liability for rates fell only on a person . .
CitedErrington v Errington and Woods CA 19-Dec-1951
There was a contract by a father to allow his son to buy the father’s house on payment of the instalments of the father’s Building Society loan.
Held: Denning LJ reviewed the cases and said: ‘The result of all these cases is that, although a . .
CitedStreet v Mountford HL 6-Mar-1985
When a licence is really a tenancy
The document signed by the occupier stated that she understood that she had been given a licence, and that she understood that she had not been granted a tenancy protected under the Rent Acts. Exclusive occupation was in fact granted.
Held: . .
CitedGray and others v Taylor CA 2-Apr-1998
A right of occupation given by an almshouse under a charitable trust was an occupation under a licence without right of possession, not an assured tenancy. The plaintiff’s conditions of occupancy stated: ‘Residents are licensees and pay a . .
CitedEarl of Pomfret v Lord Windsor (1) 30-Jul-1752
An occupying beneficiary under a settlement, who was in possession by permission of the trustees, was a tenant at will to the trustees. . .
CitedRadaich v Smith 7-Sep-1959
(High Court of Australia) Justice Windeyer said: ‘What then is the fundamental right which a tenant has that distinguishes his position from that of a licensee? It is an interest in land as distinct from a personal permission to enter the land and . .
CitedLarkos v Cyprus ECHR 18-Feb-1999
The applicant had rented a house from the government, but was ordered to vacate the house following revocation of his tenancy. Because he had been a tenant of the government he was not, under domestic law, entitled to the security which he would . .
CitedBlecic v Croatia ECHR 29-Jul-2004
The applicant had for many years before 1992 had a protected tenancy of a publicly-owned flat in Zadar. Under Croatian law a specially-protected tenancy might be terminated if the tenant ceased to occupy the flat for a continuous period of six . .
CitedNiholas v Secretary of State for Defence ChD 1-Aug-2013
The claimant had been the wife of a military officer, and occupied a property licensed to him by the defendant. They divorced and he left, and she now resisted grant of possession to the defendant.
Held: The claimant failed. However, there was . .
CitedNicholas v Secretary of State for Defence CA 4-Feb-2015
The claimant wife of a Squadron Leader occupied a military house with her husband under a licence from the defendant. When the marriage broke down, he defendant gave her notice to leave. She now complained that the arrangement was discriminatory and . .
CitedDi Palma v United Kingdom ECHR 1-Dec-1986
(Commission/admissibility) The applicant’s lease was forfeited on her non-payment of a service charge and possession was ordered. Her primary claim was made (unsuccessfully) under article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention. But she also . .
CitedWood v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Jul-1997
(Commission decision as to admissibility) The applicant’s house had been repossessed by a mortgagee when she defaulted on her payments due under the mortgage. Her complaint was found to be manifestly ill-founded, saying ‘In so far as the . .
CitedLondon Borough of Harrow v Qazi HL 31-Jul-2003
The applicant had held a joint tenancy of the respondent. His partner gave notice and left, and the property was taken into possession. The claimant claimed restoration of his tenancy saying the order did not respect his right to a private life and . .
CitedManchester City Council v Pinnock SC 9-Feb-2011
The council tenant had wished to appeal following a possession order made after her tenancy had been demoted. The court handed down a supplemental judgment to give effect to its earlier decision. The Court had been asked ‘whether article 8 of the . . .
CitedMcDonald v McDonald and Another CA 24-Jul-2014
The appellant had a personality dosorder. Her parents bought a house and granted her series of assured shorthold tenancies. After they fell into rrears on the morgtgage, the bank appointed receivers. The rent then also hell into arears, and they . .
CitedSouthward Housing Co-Operative Ltd v Walker and Another ChD 8-Jun-2015
The court was asked as to the nature and effect of tenancies for life granted by fully mutual housing co-operatives and in particular how they can lawfully be brought to an end and a possession order obtained. The tenants sought a declaration of . .

Cited by:
CitedWatkins, Regina (on The Application of) v Newcastle Upon Tyne County Court and Another Admn 2-May-2018
Whether almshouse tenant had been in breach of terms of letter of appointment, and whether the agreement was in fact a tenancy. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Housing, Human Rights

Updated: 27 January 2022; Ref: scu.572423