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Bruton v London and Quadrant Housing Trust [1999] 3 All ER 481  House of Lords

Mr Bruton occupied a flat in Brixton. The flat was owned by Lambeth Borough Council who had granted a licence to London & Quadrant Housing Trust which permitted the Trust to provide accommodation to homeless people. Mr Bruton claimed that his agreement with the Trust was in the nature of a tenancy rather than a licence and that the Trust was in breach of its implied obligations to repair under the Land Lord and Tenant Act 1985. The Trust argued that since they had no legal estate in the property, as they were only licensees themselves, they had nothing from which they could grant a tenancy.

Held:

Mr Bruton was a tenant. The agreement fulfilled all the criteria to create a tenancy since it conferred exclusive possession for a certain period in return for rent. It did not matter that the Trust held no legal estate in the property.

Lord Hobhouse:

“The case of Mr Bruton depends upon his establishing that his agreement with the Housing Trust has the legal effect of creating a relationship of tenant and landlord between them. That is all. It does not depend upon his establishing a proprietary title good against all the world or against the Council. It is not necessary for him to show that the Council had conveyed a legal estate to the Housing Trust.”

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