Published: Fri, 12 Oct 2018
Gray v Taylor  1 WLR 1093
Landlord and tenant; almsperson occupying premises owned by charitable trust; whether lease or license
Taylor occupied a flat in an almshouse which was administered by the trustees of a charity. The trustees terminated her appointment as an almsperson entitled to occupy the premises under the terms of the charitable trust, and instigated proceedings for possession. Taylor claimed she was an assured tenant for the purposes of s1 Housing Act 1988 and as such, the trustees could not take possession without an order of the court.
The trustees argued the agreement was stated to be a license agreement under which the occupants paid a contribution to maintenance costs of the premises. It explicitly stated the occupants were not tenants and did not pay rent. Therefore, Taylor could not be a tenant and they could take possession of the property after the notice period which had been appropriately served. Taylor contended that when she was appointed as an almsperson, she became entitled to occupy the premises with exclusive possession for term at a rent. Therefore, she claimed the agreement amounted to a lease under Street v Mountford  AC 809 and the trustees could not recover possession without a court order.
The agreement was held to be a license. The trustees had appointed her to a position whereby she could occupy the premises by exercising their powers and duties under the trust. The relationship thereby was one of trustee and beneficiary. The trustees’ powers did not extend to allowing her to remain in occupation once she had ceased to qualify as a beneficiary. Granting a tenancy in an almshouse would infringe the objects of the charity if the occupier was allowed to remain, when they no longer satisfied the conditions for residency.
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