• It was held in this case that a contractual licence is able to be inferred where the mother of the property owner’s children wishes to remain in the relevant property until the children have finished their education. Whether a contractual licence is able to be inferred is a question to be determined on each case’s facts.

Facts of the case

  • C and D were a couple, though they did not get married nor did they live with each other. The claimant was the father of the defendant’s children.
  • C purchased a property for D and their children to live in, and subsequently, D gave up her current accommodation for which she paid rent, and moved into the property provided by C.
  • Three years later, C offered D £3,000 to leave the property, and offered that he would also pay her maintenance. D refused, and as a result, C served D with a notice to leave the property.
  • D refused to leave, and as a result, C initiation possession proceedings against D in order to repossess the property.

Issues in Tanner v Tanner [1975]

  • The issue in this case was whether the D had a contractual licence to stay in the property, which was implied to her to the extent that she could stay there until the children completed their education.

CA held:

  • The court could indeed infer a contractual licence on the facts.
  • This was because the defendant gave up a rent controlled flat to live in the house, meaning that the claimant had a reasonable expectation that she could remain in the property for a substantial amount of time. It is likely she wouldn’t have gave up this rented property if she could only live in the new property for a short amount of time.
  • Despite this being the case, a court order had already been put in place granting possession to the claimant, and as such, the defendant received only damages for loss of the licence.

Lord Denning:

  • “Nevertheless it seems to me plain on the evidence that the house was acquired in the contemplation and expectation that it would provide a home for the defendant and the twin daughters. The babies were only eight months old at the time. She gave up her flat in Steels Road (where she was protected by the Rent Acts) to move into B this house. It was obviously provided for her as a house for herself and the twins for the foreseeable future.”
  • “She had given up her flat where she was protected by the Rent Acts- at least in regard to rent and it may be in regard also to security of tenure. She had given it up at his instance so as to be able the better to bring up the children. It is impossible to suppose that in that situation she and the babies were bare licensees whom he could turn out at a moment’s notice. The plaintiff recognised this when he offered to pay the defendant £4,000 to get her out.”
  • “It seems to me that enables an inference to be drawn, namely, that in all the circumstances it is to be implied that she had a licence- a contractual licence- to have accommodation in the house for herself and the children so long as they were of school age and the accommodation was reasonably required for her and for the children”