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Jones (AE) v Jones (FW) [1977] 1 WLR 438

Proprietary estoppel and tenants in common.

Facts:

The defendant’s father bought a house. The defendant, Frederick Jones, supplied one quarter of the purchaser price on the mutual understanding that it would be his home for the rest of his life. He gave up his job and council house and moved into the property. When the father died, the house vested in the defendant’s stepmother, the plaintiff Alice Jones. She demanded rent from the defendant and, when he refused to pay, brought proceedings for possession. The trial judge refused to grant an order for sale but ordered the defendant to pay three quarters of a fair rent.

Issues:

It was established that the assurances made by defendant’s father had induced the defendant to give up his job and council house. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff could not charge him rent on the basis of proprietary estoppel and counterclaimed that the plaintiff should transfer her interest in the house to him and that he should receive a life interest in the house. 

Held:

The Court of Appeal held that the plaintiff and the defendant were tenants in common having three quarters and one quarter shares respectively. Tenants in common cannot claim rent from each other even though the other occupies the whole property. Therefore, the plaintiff could not claim rent. Lord Denning MR said that the father’s conduct induced the defendant to rely on it to his detriment in giving up his house and job. Therefore, the plaintiff was estopped from turning him out. The court also refused to grant an order for sale as this would frustrate the purpose the house was bought for, namely to provide the defendant with a home.


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