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Walsh v Lonsdale (1882)


  • A 7 year lease was granted by Lonsdale to Walsh over a mill
  • The lease agreement contained a clause allowing rent to be paid up front for 1 year upon the demand of Lonsdale
  • The lease was not granted by deed, which was and still is a formal requirement of the creation of leases with duration exceeding 3 years (now section 52 of the Law of Property Act 1925)
  • Londsale (the landlord/lessor) demanded a year’s rent upfront. This was not paid and so under the the now abolished remedy of distress, Lonsdale seized property belonging to Walsh to enable the recovery of rent advance


  • Could Walsh stop Lonsdale from demanding the year’s rent and the seizing of his property as the lease was not formally executed?


  • No


  • The doctrine of Walsh v Lonsdale (1882) was created, allowing equity to regard as done that which ought to be done, or more simply, creating an equitable equivalent of a formally defective but otherwise legal lease
  • The doctrine will only operate where the contract underlying the defective lease complies with the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989, in that it is in writing, contains all express terms, is signed by or on behalf of all parties, provides for consideration and is specifically enforceable
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