Land Law

Notes, cases, and materials on land law

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Unregistered Land
Registered Land
Freehold Covenants

Past Papers & Questions

Essay Questions

1. “The minimum equity principle requires that, in fashioning a remedy to give effect to proprietary estoppel, the court must go no further than is necessary to prevent detriment.” (Robertson, ‘The Reliance Basis of Proprietary Estoppel Remedies’ [2008] Conv 295). Critically discuss.

2. “The remedies available to the mortgagee are too extensive and do not accord with the economic realities of the twenty-first century. Immediate reform is required.” Critically discuss.

3. “The rules determining the existence of a ‘common intention’ constructive trust of the home, and the rules determining the shares held by the beneficiaries of such a constructive trust, are too uncertain”. Critically discuss.

4. “The new regime for adverse possession in registered land implemented through the LRA 2002 adopted a clear moral view on ‘advertent squatters’, as the prospect that the urban squatter could acquire the title to land automatically, on the expiry of the limitation period, was deemed to be inherently unfair.” (Neil Cobb and Lorna Fox, ‘Living Outside the System? The (im)morality of Urban Squatting after the Land Registration Act 2002’, Legal Studies 27(2) 2007). Discuss

5. ‘Critically evaluate whether Schedule 3 of the Land Registration Act 2002 does ensure, and whether it should ensure, that rights binding a disponee are readily discoverable by them.

6. If Parliament were to review the contents of Schedule 3 of the Land Registration Act 2002, by what principles should it be guided? If your proposed principles were adopted, what are the main changes (if any) that would need to be made to those contents?

7. Has the Supreme Court’s decision in Jones v. Kernott [2011] regarding the informal acquisition of beneficial interests in family homes left that area of the law in a satisfactory condition?

Problem Question 1

Abigail is the registered proprietor of the freehold title to Oxford House, a large plot of land with a 4-bedroom house and a 2-bedroom cottage in its grounds. The cottage has a bathroom and kitchen, but lacks a sitting room. Until now she has lived in the house and rented the cottage on short-term holiday lets, but as her employer is relocating her to New York indefinitely she decides to rent both the house and cottage on a longer-term basis.

On 30th August 2016 Abigail enters into a written agreement with Betty, signed by both parties, giving Betty the right to exclusive possession of the house in return for market rent of £1500 per calendar month. The agreement provides for each party to terminate the agreement by providing the other with one month’s notice to quit. Betty moves in on the same day.

Also on 30th August 2016 Abigail confers on Connor and Darren, two students at the local university, the right to occupy the cottage from 1st September 2016 until 1st July 2017 (the date on which they complete their studies). Connor and Darren tell Abigail how glad they are to have found her cottage, having searched for a suitable 2-bedroom property for a few months. Abigail enters into an agreement with Connor, signed by both Abigail and Connor, and another in identical terms with Darren, signed by both Abigail and Darren. In recognition of the fact that Connor and Darren are students, Abigail rents them the property at 60% of its market value. Clause 3 of the agreement provides that Abigail can introduce another occupant into the cottage. Clause 4 provides that each of the two occupants is liable for all gas and electricity consumed in the cottage during their occupation.

In April 2017, Abigail decides to sell the freehold estate in Oxford House to Edgar. The sale is completed late April 2017, and Edgar registered as proprietor. Edgar failed to inspect the property before purchase, and is now shocked to discover Betty, Connor and Darren in occupation. He wishes to obtain vacant possession of the house and cottage, and writes to Betty, Conor and Darren telling them to leave immediately.

At no point during Connor and Darren’s eight-month occupation prior to sale does Abigail seek to exercise her right under Clause 3 to introduce a new occupant into the cottage.

Advise Betty, Connor and Darren.

Problem Question 2

Filippo is registered proprietor of the freehold estate in No 1 and No 2 of a row of terraced houses. He decides to live in No 1 and sell No 2 to Griselda. As Filippo is concerned to protect the value of No 1, shortly after the sale completes he agrees with Griselda that No 2 will be occupied exclusively as a family home. The undertaking is formalised in a written document, signed by both Filippo and Griselda, and the covenant expressed to be ‘for the benefit of Filippo, his successors and assigns’.

Six months after Griselda moves into No 2, she undertakes to “Filippo, my neighbour” that the external appearance of No 2 will be preserved unchanged. The undertaking is contained in a written document signed by Griselda but not Filippo, and subsequently registered against No 2’s freehold estate.

A year later, Filippo sells the freehold estate in No 1 to Harrison. After completing the purchase, Harrison goes overseas for an extended holiday, during which time the freehold estate in No 2 is sold to a builder, Ian, who is registered as proprietor shortly thereafter. When Harrison returns, he is alarmed to see that the front wall of No 2 has been demolished by Ian to enable him to park vans in the front garden. Ian also informs Harrison of his plan to move out of No 2 for a couple of years to allow his student daughter and her university friends to live in the property. Harrison cautions Ian about covenants restricting the use that can be made of No 2, but as Ian was (correctly) told by Griselda prior to sale of No 2 that no notice of the “family home” covenant was ever entered on the Land Register, he simply replies that he will act in accordance with his legal rights and obligations.

Advise Harrison.

Problem Question 3

Julia is the registered proprietor of a plot of land that includes a house with single garage and an adjacent cottage. In January 2014, Julia allows her close friend, Kingsley, to live rent-free in the cottage. Given their long-standing friendship, Julia also tells Kingsley that he can use the garage to park his car.

Water reaches the cottage via a pipe running underground from the house. The water is metered on entry to the house, and the monthly bill paid by Julia. Julia agrees not to interfere with the flow of water to the cottage; Kingsley is grateful that he does not have to arrange a separate water supply. Julia has a collection of wine which she keeps in a corner of the cottage’s cellar.

In June 2015, Julia decides to sell the cottage to Kingsley. The freehold estate is transferred by deed, and Kingsley registered as new proprietor. In October 2015, Julia formally gives Kingsley the right to park in the garage in return for a payment of £200. The right is conferred by a deed signed by both Julia and Kingsley, but is not registered against the freehold estate in the house.

In October 2016, Julia sells the house and garage to Leo; he is registered as freehold proprietor shortly thereafter. Leo also buys Julia’s wine collection which remains in the cellar of the cottage. In February 2017, Kingsley sells the freehold estate in the cottage to Mark.

The following disputes have now arisen:

  1. Mark wishes to park his car in the garage; Leo objects to this
  2. Leo has interrupted the flow of water to the cottage; Mark objects to this
  3. Mark is demanding that Leo remove his wine from the cottage’s cellar

Advise Mark.

Problem Question 4

Nick,who lives and works in Germany, inherits the freeholde state in RoseCottage in 2004 and is registered as proprietor. Nick is too busy to return to England to manage the cottage and asks his friend, Oliver, to look after it. Oliver agrees, although he lives more than 100 miles away and so is not able to visit on a regular basis. In fact, after an initial visit in 2004 Oliver never returns to the property.

In January 2005 Petra, who has noticed that the cottage appears to be unoccupied, breaks in and takes up residence. The property has fallen into disrepair and over the next four years she spends a considerable sum of money refurbishing and redecorating it, including installing central heating and a new kitchen and bathroom.

Nick retires from his job and returns to England in February 2017, intending to spend his retirement in Rose Cottage. When he arrives at the property he discovers Petra living there. Petra refuses to leave, asserting that she has secured title to the property by adverse possession and saying that after all that she has spent on the property it would be a breach of her human rights to make her move out. Nick says that anyone who breaks into another’s property commits a criminal offence and has no right to be registered with title.

The rear garden of Rose Cottage is L shaped, with the bottom section (“the Strip”) running behind the garden of Apple Cottage, the next-door property owned by Quentin, and up to a road. When Petra moves into Rose Cottage she notices that the Strip receives a lot of sunlight and in 2006, after discussing her plans with Quentin, she builds a substantial summer house there. Over the years Petra holds many parties in the summer house to which she invites her neighbours, including Quentin. She also allows Quentin to use the summer house to host occasional drinks parties.

Quentin re-mortgages Apple Cottage in 2016 and discovers that the Strip actually forms part of his registered title and does not belong to Rose Cottage after all. Quentin asks Petra to vacate the Strip.

On the other side of Rose Cottage is a field owned by Raj, title to which is unregistered. Since moving in to Rose Cottage in January 2005, Petra has walked her dogs in the field and picked the wild flowers. To make it easier to get around she regularly cuts a path through the tall grass. She has also replaced and maintained the gate to the field. It is now May 2017 and Raj, who wishes to put cows in the field, has asked Petra to stop using it. Petra wishes to claim title to the field by adverse possession.

Advise Petra of her options in relation to Rose Cottage, the Strip and the field. Petra has asked that your advice include consideration of the effect of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Problem Question 5

Eleanor owns two properties, Green Gables and Red Gables, both of registered title. The properties are adjoining semidetached houses, each with a long back garden. The Red Gables garden contains a pond suitable for swimming and a paddock at the rear; the garden is accessed through the house and the paddock accessed by a ten feet wide driveway which runs down the side of Red Gables and onto the paddock. The Green Gables garden is accessed by a four feet wide path which runs down the side of Green Gables.

In 2014 Eleanor leases Green Gables to Freddie for five years while living in Red Gables herself. Shortly after Freddie moves in, Eleanor agrees that he can swim in the pond in her garden. Eleanor dislikes horses so makes no use of the paddock, but on occasion she walks down the driveway onto the paddock to admire the wild flowers that grow there.

In March 2016 Eleanor sells both the freehold of Green Gables and the Red Gables paddock to Freddie. The transfers are made by deed and Freddie registered as new proprietor. At the time of transfer, Freddie tells Eleanor that he wishes to keep a horse in the paddock; Eleanor replies that she does not mind what he does. In April 2016 Eleanor sells the freehold in the remainder of Red Gables (including the driveway) to Gary; the transfer is made by deed and Gary registered as proprietor.

Once Freddie becomes owner of the paddock, he buys a horse. He manages to get the horse into the paddock via the path to the side of Green Gables and a gate that he has made connecting the Green Gables back garden with the paddock, but now finds great difficulty getting the horse and its supplies in and out that way. He therefore wishes to be able to drive a Land Rover and trailer down the driveway to the side of Red Gables and onto the paddock.

Gary is refusing Freddie use of the driveway and has told him that he can no longer swim in the pond.

Advise Freddie

Problem Question 6

Jack and Kendra are the registered owners of ‘The Hollies’ which they live in with their four children aged from 3 to 19. In 2014, Jack’s business venture fails, leaving £150,000 owed to his creditors. Lionel is appointed as trustee in bankruptcy in January 2015. Jack has no assets apart from his share in the family home. Jack and Kendra own the property as tenants in common in equity, with Jack having a one-third share and Kendra having a two-thirds share. There is no mortgage on the property.

In May 2016, Lionel applies under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 and the Insolvency Act 1986 for an order of sale in relation to The Hollies. The property is worth £300,000. Lionel is also claiming that a deduction should be made from Kendra’s two-thirds share for an occupation rent to reflect the fact that since Jack’s bankruptcy Jack and Kendra have continued to live in The Hollies.

Jack and Kendra do not want to move. They have lived in The Hollies for 25 years and it has been specially adapted for the needs of their 19-year-old daughter, Mary, who is severely disabled. The local authority has offered alternative housing for rent but it is several miles away from The Hollies and in a very undesirable area. Their two children of school age (aged 7 and 15) would have to move from their present schools to schools with a much worse reputation. Kendra has a secure job and her mother, who lives nearby, walks over to help with child care while Kendra is at work; her mother has said that as she cannot drive she will not be able to carry on doing this if Kendra moves. Furthermore, significant building work is required to make the alternative housing suitable for Mary.

Advise Jack and Kendra.