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Lace v Chantler [1944] KB 368 Court of Appeal

A tenant of a house sub-let the house to the defendant. The agreement stated the lease was to last for the duration of the war.

Held:

The tenancy failed as there was no certainty as to the maximum duration.

Lord Greene MR:

"Normally there could be no question that this was an ordinary weekly tenancy, duly determinable by a week's notice, but the parties in the rent-book agreed to a term which appears there expressed by the words 'furnished for duration,' which must mean the duration of the war. The question immediately arises whether a tenancy for the duration of the war creates a good leasehold interest. In my opinion, it does not. A term created by a leasehold tenancy agreement 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 to as a certain ascertainment of what the term is meant to be. In the present case, when this tenancy agreement took effect, the term was completely uncertain. It was impossible to say how long the tenancy would last. Mr Sturge in his argument has maintained that such a lease would be valid, and that, even if the term is uncertain at its beginning when the lease takes effect, the fact that at some future time it will be rendered certain is sufficient to make it a good lease. In my opinion that argument is not to be sustained. I do not propose to go into the authorities on the matter, but in Foa's 'Landlord and Tenant' 6th ed., p. 115, the law is stated in this way, and, in my view, correctly: 'The habendum in a lease must point out the period during which the enjoyment of the premises is to be had; so that the duration, as well as the commencement of the term, must be stated. The certainty of a lease as to its continuance must be ascertainable either by the express limitation of the parties at the time the lease is made, or by reference to some collateral act which may, with equal certainty, measure the continuance of it, otherwise it is void . . ."'

Back to lecture outline on requirements of a lease in Land Law