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Somma v Hazelhurst [1978]

Facts

  • A room was licensed to a couple via 2 separate licences with each individual
  • The separate licences included a term allowing the landlord to introduce 1 other person (at his discretion) into the room

Issue

  • Could the licensees claim that they were tenants under a shared lease and therefore covered by landlord and tenant legislation?

Decision

  • No

Reasoning

  • No agreement had been made which was contrary to public policy; two licences had been created
  • In hind sight, this was the height of the sham licences period, where landlords fictionally claimed to be able to deny tenants of exclusive possession in order to circumvent landlord and tenant protective legislation
  • The case would likely be decided differently now, since the decision in Street v Mountford [1985]
  • For discussion on the leases vs licences debate, visit land law notes on leases
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