Hannaford v Selby (1976) 239 E.G. 811

Trust – Beneficial Interest – Common Intention – Property – Repossession – Licensee – Notice – Reasonable Time


The defendants, the Selby family, were the parents of the complainant, Mrs Hannaford. The Hannaford family bought property in their own name and used the money from selling their former home. The complainant came to an agreement with her parents that they could live with her and her family. The Selbys did not contribute to the purchase price of the property, but they did pay £5 per week into the family kitty and helped with household expenses. They left their council house to move in. Mr Selby used the garden to grow his vegetables. The complainant sought repossession of the property after relationships broke down.


The issue in this case was whether the defendants had a beneficial interest in the property in light of their repeat contributions to the household and family kitty, as well as growing vegetables in the garden.


It was held that the defendants were not entitled to reside in the property. The Selbys were classed as ‘bare licensees’ as there was no intention to create legal obligations with the complainants when they moved in. It would not matter if the party had made financial contributions nor were the vegetables seen as a ‘detriment’ that would create beneficial interest in the property. However, the defendants were entitled to reasonable notice and a reasonable chance to find other accommodation. The court stated that ‘reasonable time’ could be as much as six months, depending on the circumstances.