Land Law - Leases

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Leading Cases Regarding Leases And Remedies For Breach Of Covenants

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Islington LBC v Green
Regarding whether a capable grantor / grantee.
It was held that ‘the relationship between landlord and tenant is not dependent on whether the lease creates an estate or other proprietary interest which may be binding on third parties. Whether a lease creates a proprietary interest in turn will depend on whether the landlord has an interest out of which he has granted it’
Lace v Chantler
Regarding fixed term
“a term created by a leasehold must be expressed either with certainty and specifically or by reference to something which can, at the time when the lease takes effect, be looked at as a certain ascertainment of what the term was meant to be”
Prudential Assurance v London Residuary
Periodic Tenancy
Held that all leases of land must be for a term of a certain duration. A highway authority purchased a piece of land alongside a highway, and leased it back to the seller, the terms of the lease stating that it was leased to him until it was required for the purposes of widening the road. It was held that leases must be for a certain or determinable length of time, and thus the agreement leasing the land until it would be required for road-building was void.
As the tenant paid rent yearly, then the lease would be held to be a yearly one, which the new owner could lawfully terminate
Street v Mountford
Landmark decision in the lease/license distinction. S let his house to M in return for a weekly payment, in a written agreement headed ‘License’, she accepted rules about visitors and heating. S retained the right to enter the house to inspect it. The House of Lords held that this was a weekly tenancy, the normal test of a tenancy is the factual question of exclusive possession rather than the intention of the parties:

“The occupier is a licensee if the landlord provides services which require the landlord to exercise unrestricted access to and use of the premises. If on the other hand residential accommodation is granted for a term at a rent with exclusive possession, the landlord providing no services or attendance, the grant is a tenancy”

the status of an agreement depends upon the substantive rights granted by it and not the labels used within it.
Antoniades v Villiers
A ‘license agreement’ which seemed to give the owner the right to sleep in the tiny flat with a cohabiting couple was held to be a tenancy, the term looked as if it denied exclusive possession to the couple but it was held to be a sham, inserted to the agreement merely to avoid giving Rent Act protection, and therefore it had no effect
Abbeyfield v Woods
The occupier of a room in an old people's home was held to be a licensee and not a tenant. Lord Denning said “The modern cases show that a man may be a licensee even though he has exclusive possession, even though the word 'rent' is used, and even though the word 'tenancy' is used. The court must look at the agreement as a whole and see whether a tenancy really was intended. In this case there is, besides the one room, the provision of services, meals, a resident housekeeper, and such like. The whole arrangement was so personal in nature that the proper inference is that he was a licensee.”
AG Securities v Vaughan
A granted to V and his girlfriend the right to use a flat. Each occupant signed separate but identical agreements described as licenses, which stated that the Rent Acts did not apply, that "the licensor is not willing to grant...exclusive possession" and that the use of the flat was "in common with the licensor and such other licensees or invitees as he may permit from time to time". It was held that in reality there had been an intention to grant exclusive possession and accordingly a tenancy had been created
National Car Parks v Trinity Development
‘the court must look to the substance and not to the form. But, it may help in determining what the substance was, to consider whether the parties expressed themselves in a particular way. To wholly disregard the parties choice of wording would be inconsistent with the general principle of freedom of contract…’
Ashburn v Arnold
the statement by Lord Templeman in Street v Mountford that the three hallmarks of a tenancy are: “exclusive possession for a term at a rent” did not lead to the conclusion that “no rent, no lease” necessarily followed. Therefore, there is no requirement to actually pay rent in order for the agreement to be a lease.
King's Motors v Lax
it was observed that as the rent was not agreed and was left to be agreed, the contract is not enforceable and void for uncertainty
Walsh v Lonsdale
If the proper formalities have not been complied with (ie. No deed or registration) then as long as there is a specifically enforceable contract for land, the lease will be treated as equitable
Owen v Gadd
Landlord covenant for quiet enjoyment
It is not necessary in order to constitute a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment that there should be an actual physical irruption into or upon the premises demised on the part of the landlord or some person authorised by him, albeit the disturbance must be of a direct and physical character.
Southwark v Mills
Landlord covenant for quiet enjoyment
A covenant for quiet enjoyment did not impose an obligation on a landlord to rectify acts or omissions pre dating the grant of a tenancy. A tenant took premises in the condition in which he found them and subject to the uses which the parties contemplated would be made of those parts retained by the landlord.
Chartered Trust v Davies
Landlord covenant not to derogate from the grant
D was the lessee of one of the retail units, having taken the lease in 1988 on the strength of the estate agent's particulars that emphasised the superior nature of the arcade. In 1992 the lessors let an adjacent unit to a pawnbroking business.
The lessor's inaction constituted a continuation of the nuisance and rendered the premises materially less fit for the purpose for which they were let. The trial judge was entitled on the evidence to find that was a repudiation of the lease
Harmer v Jumbil
Landlord covenant not to derogate from the grant
The claimant took a Lease of land from the defendant Landlord with the express and known intention of storing explosives on it. The landlord then started to build on neighbouring land; the proximity of the new buildings meant that the claimants could not legally store explosives. The court held that for the landlord to build would amount to aderogation from grant, that is, they would have taken good money to grant a lease which would be of no value to the lessees.
National Carriers v Panalpina
Tenant covenant to pay rent
Usually there is a covenant obliging the tenant to pay rent, failure to pay rent is a breach of covenant unless there is frustration or repudiation of the lease. If the lease is not frustrated, even if tenant can’t use the premises, he remains liable on all the covenants, including to pay rent. Forfeiture clauses for non-payment of rent are usually included in leases and therefore give the landlord the right to forfeit the lease for non-payment.
Governors of Rugby School v Tannahill
The defendant lessee committed a breach of her covenant not to use the premises for illegal or immoral purposes. Notice to quit served on her in consequence did not require her to remedy the breach nor to make compensation in money under s. 146 of the LPA 1925:- Held:  (1.) that ceasing to commit the breach was no remedy; (2.) that the breach was not capable of remedy, and that, consequently, omission to require it to be remedied did not invalidate the notice; and (3.) that the notice was not invalidated by the omission to require payment of compensation in money although the breach was incapable of remedy, because if the landlords did not require compensation they need not ask for it.