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Day v Hosebay Ltd; Howard de Walden Estates Ltd v Lexgorge Ltd

11 October 2012

The Supreme Court has given judgement in two cases on the question of whether a building used solely for commercial purposes may qualify as a house under the legislation on leasehold enfranchisement (where a tenant of a house can force its landlord to sell the house to it).

In both cases, buildings originally built as houses were being used wholly for commercial purposes in breach of the leases. The court decided that the buildings were not houses “reasonably so called” (as required by the legislation) even though the buildings were designed as houses, may still look like houses and may still be described as houses for other purposes.

This issue arose because of a change in the law in 2002 which removed a residence requirement as a condition of enfranchisement. The decision is to be welcomed, since it can never have been Parliament’s intention to extend the right to enfranchise to commercial tenants (whose security of tenure rights are already protected by a separate piece of legislation).

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