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Mew & Anor v Tristmire [2012] 1 WLR 852 Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal were required to determine whether two houseboats ‘Emily’ and ‘Watershed’ formed part of the realty and thus constituted a dwelling house or whether they were chattels. If they formed part of the realty the defendants, who owned and resided on the boats would be  protected from eviction under the Housing Act 1988. Both Emily and Watershed were connected to the mains services providing water, electricity and gas. They were originally built to be landing crafts, but were never used as such and converted into house boats after the war. They were once capable of floating, but now could only be removed by a crane with an extensive supporting cradle. Even this would be likely to result in damage or destruction of the boats due to the present condition of the boats. They rested on wooden panels which are supported by wooden piles driven into the bed of the Bembridge harbour on the Isle of Wight.

Held:

The house boats did not form part of the realty and remained chattels. Whilst the degree of annexation was not dissimilar to that in Elitestone v Morris, in examining the object of annexation the court was to have regard to the circumstances prevailing when the boats first came to the site. At this time the boats were easily movable and not intended to be permanent structures. The tenancies of the plots did not extend to the boats.

Back to lecture outline on fixtures and chattels in land law