Tanner v Tanner [1975] 1 WLR 1346

House purchased for unmarried partner and children; validity of arrangement; purported termination


The parties were unmarried and had twin daughters. Mr Tanner purchased a house for the twins and their mother to live in. His partner gave up her protected tenancy on a flat and moved into the house with her children. Three years later Mr Tanner successfully obtained an order for possession and the mother and the twins were re-housed by the local authority. The mother appealed against the order for possession.


The mother argued she had a contractual license in the premises which could not be terminated whilst the children were of school age. She claimed the house was intended to be for herself and the children until they left school. She had given up her protected tenancy in reliance on her holding contractual rights in the house. In the alternative, she claimed a trust could be inferred whereby she and her children acquired a beneficial interest in the home. Mr Tanner claimed the arrangement amounted to a bare license which was terminable at will.


The agreement was held to be a contractual license which could not be terminated for so long as the twins were of school age, and the accommodation was reasonably required. Even though there was no express agreement to that effect, the court inferred such a contract from the surrounding circumstances. The contractual license was specifically enforceable on her behalf. The possession order should not have been made and the mother was entitled to damages in the sum of £2,000.