Ellis v Chief Adjudication Officer [1998] 1 FLR 184

Gift of home to daughter; daughter evicted mother; entitlement to benefits


Ms Ellis gifted her flat to her daughter on the condition that the daughter continued to pay the mortgage instalments, and that Ms Ellis could remain in the flat under her daughter’s care. The daughter evicted her mother and sold the flat. Ms Ellis applied for income support and the Social Security Commissioner determined she was ineligible. Ms Ellis appealed.


The Commissioner contended the gift of the flat from mother to daughter had failed and, as such, Ms Ellis was entitled to a proportion of the proceeds of sale from the flat. Her capital, therefore, exceeded the threshold specified in the Income Support (General) Regulations 1987 Reg.45 thereby rendering her ineligible for income support. Ms Ellis argued the condition that she remain under her daughter’s care was insufficiently certain to be valid, and she could not be said to have an interest in the proceeds of sale from the flat. The condition was void for uncertainty, the gift to the daughter was valid and, therefore, she did not hold the capital assets which would take her over the threshold for claiming income support.


Ms Ellis’ claim failed. The condition was not void for uncertainty, and it was fair to construe it as requiring the daughter to allow her mother to continue to live in the flat, and provide her with a decent standard of living. There was no reason to interfere with the Commissioner’s decision that her share of the proceeds would exceed the threshold and, therefore, Ms Ellis was not entitled to income support.