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Hammersmith and Fulham LBC v Monk [1992] 1 A.C. 478

The determination of joint tenancies by a single tenant.

Facts

Monk and Powell held a joint tenancy over a property. Following the termination of their relationship Powell desired to end her tenancy and was given a new tenancy by the local council on the condition that her existing tenancy be determined and ended. Thus, the tenant provided the council with a notice to quit, allowing them to seek possession of the house. She subsequently sought to withdraw her notice, but the Council proceeded to possess the property anyway, issuing a notice to Monk that he ought vacate the property.

Issue

Whether one tenant could end a joint tenancy without the consent of the other joint tenant.

Held

The Court held that the tenant’s right to occupy the original property was grounds for few protections and that strong security of tenure did not stem from a joint periodic tenancy. In this case, it suffices for one of the tenants to give notice to quit, permission from both is not necessary. Further, the continuation of a joint tenancy requires all of the joint tenants to desire its continuation. Here, the Court viewed that the matter was relatively straightforward, utilising the analogy of contract law to state that should determination of a contract rest upon the consent of all signatories, it supposes that in the absence of one party’s consent, the other signatories have effectively entered into an indefinite contractual obligation. Such a supposition is unreasonable and does not reflect the likely intentions of the parties at the time of contracting. The same holds in application to tenancy contracts, and so the desire for determination by one joint tenant suffices for the ending of the whole tenancy.


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