• The High Court held in Southward Housing Cooperative Ltd v Walker [2015] that where there is an agreement of an uncertain term, it will not be converted into a life tenancy if the terms of the agreement demonstrate a contrary intention.
  • The HC also held that there will also not be a life tenancy, if there are circumstances which demonstrate a contrary intention.
  • If the above factors are present, it the agreement will not constitute a 90 year lease under s149 (6) LPA 1925.

Facts of the case:

  • C granted Walker (D) a weekly tenancy, which stated that, inter alia: rent was payable weekly, a notice to quit must be served one month prior to termination, and that C would only seek the cessation of tenancy on specified grounds with a notice.
  • C served D a notice to quit, on the basis that C broke one of the ‘specified grounds’ contained in the tenancy agreement; namely, he failed to pay his rent.
  • D argued that agreement was a ‘tenancy for life’ at common law due to its uncertainty, and therefore under s149 (6) Law of Property Act 1925, it was a 90 year lease, and thus cannot be served a notice to quit.

Issues in Southward Housing Cooperative Ltd v Walker [2015]

  • The issue for the High Court was whether the agreement was a 90 year lease, or a contractual licence

The High Court held:

  • The claimant did not intend to grant D a life tenancy, because there were terms in the agreement specifying when a notice to quite would be served. These terms demonstrated it was not a life tenancy. As such, it was held that the agreement was only a contractual licence.

Hilliard J:

  • [72] “I accept the Claimant’s submissions that the terms of the Agreement show a clear contrary intention:
  • [72 (4)] “Most importantly, to my mind, the Agreement is repeatedly expressed as determinable by a “notice to quit”, which is a hallmark of a periodic tenancy (Clause 2[2](b), Clause 4[2], Clause 6[2], Clause 7[3]). The Mexfield tenancy had a conventionally-drafted right of re-entry, which is consistent with a fixed term, and no express provision for notice to quit.”