• In the case of Long v Tower Hamlets LBC 1996 2 ALL ER 683, it was found that a revisionary lease cannot take effect as a parol lease under the Law of Property Act 1925 s.54.

Facts of the Case

  • In 1975 agents for T’s predecessor in title wrote to Long (L) confirming that they were prepared to grant a quarterly lease of a shop premises.
  • L enclosed a copy of the letter, the lease agreement, to the effect that he had agreed the terms and returned it to the landlord.
  • In 1977 L ceased to pay rent.
  • He remained in the property and L commended proceedings against T seeking a declaration that he was beneficially entitled to the premises and for rectification of the proprietorship register based on adverse possession.
  • At first instance, T’s motion to strike out the claim succeed.
  • L appealed, claiming that as he had paid to rent since 1977, the right of action was statute barred by virtue of the 12-year limitation period under the Limitation Act 1980 s.15(1).
  • T contended however that the tenancy document was a lease in writing within Sch.1 para.5 of the 1980 Act is that the imitation period began to run from 1984, when L’s tenancy was brought to an end by the expiry of the notice to quit.

Issues in Long v Tower Hamlets LBC 1996 2 ALL ER 683

  • Did the written document amount to a valid tenancy in writing?

Held by High Court

  • The written document was not a lease in writing but evidence of the existence of the lease.

James Munby

  • Held that the document had to create a leasehold estate in land in law. The agreement was not executed as a deed, and so could only take effect as a lease creating a legal estate in land if it operated as a lease taking effect in possession for a term not exceeding three years in accordance with the Law of Property Act 1925 s.54.
  • “The tenancy document merely evidenced the terms of the lease and was not dispositive in the sense that it created at law, of and by itself, a leasehold estate in land and was therefore not a “lease in writing” for the purposes of paragraph 5(1) of Schedule 1 to the Limitation Act 1980; that a lease to commence at a future date was not a lease “taking H effect in possession” within section 54(2) of the Law of Property 1 Limitation Act 1980, s. 15(1)(6): see post, p. 202A-B. Sch. 1, para. 5(1): see post, p. 202B-C. 2 Law of Property Act 1925, s. 54: see post, p. 207D-E. 198 Long v. Tower Hamlets L.B.C. [1998] Act 1925 and was void for the purpose of conveying and creating A legal estate unless made by deed; and that, therefore, the plaintiff’s tenancy was not created by the tenancy document but arose by operation of law as a result of his taking possession and paying rent”. Pg 210-219