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Westminster City Council v Clarke [1992] 2 AC 288  House of Lords

Westminster City council ran a hostel which contained 31 single rooms for housing homeless men. Mr Clarke occupied a room by an agreement which stated the council could change the accommodation without notice and require Mr Clarke to share the room with other homeless people. He was to be in his room by 11.00pm and could not have visitors after that time. Other occupants complained about the noise and disturbances made by Mr Clarke and the Council sought possession of the room. Mr Clarke in his defence claimed to be entitled to protection from eviction as a secure tenant.

Held:

The agreement was a licence not a tenancy.

Lord Templeman:

"By the terms of the licence to occupy Mr. Clarke was not entitled to any particular room, he could be required to share with any other person as required by the Council and he was only entitled to "occupy accommodation in common with the Council whose representative may enter the accommodation at any time." It is accepted that these provisions of the licence to occupy were inserted to enable the Council to discharge its responsibilities to the vulnerable persons accommodated at the Cambridge Street terrace and were not inserted for the purposes of enabling the Council to avoid the creation of a secure tenancy. The conditions of occupancy support the view that Mr. Clarke was not in exclusive occupation of Room E. He was expressly limited in his enjoyment of any accommodation provided for him. He was forbidden to entertain visitors without the approval of the Council staff and was bound to comply with the Council's warden or other staff in charge of the hostel. These limitations confirmed that the Council retained possession of all the rooms of the hostel in order to supervise and control the activities of the occupiers, including Mr. Clarke. Although Mr. Clarke physically occupied Room E he did not enjoy possession exclusively of the Council."

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