Land Law

Ninth edition

by Mark Davys

Three Students Revisited

Alexia, Brian and Charlie are living in a four-bedroom house within easy reach of the University, in a nice part of the town. Their landlady, Denise, also has a room in the house, but the rent (or ‘licence fee’ as it said on their agreement) is very cheap, and Denise is hardly ever there. The three friends mostly have the house to themselves.

The only problem is that Denise has decided to sell the house. Alexia, Brian and Brian’s dad have made a joint offer to buy the house and are waiting for Denise to let them know if she will accept it. In the meanwhile Charlie has begun worrying about whether he will be able to stay in the house. So worried, that he has been losing a lot of sleep. So much sleep, that he has been catching up on sleep in lectures and tutorials. Fortunately, one of his tutors noticed and sent him to the Independent Advice Unit at the University’s Student Union. The person at the IAU told Charlie that his ‘tenancy’ was almost certainly a licence. She went on to say that Charlie probably shouldn’t worry as if Denise were to sell the house, the purchaser would probably want to make an arrangement with Charlie, rather than risk a protracted argument or court battle. Charlie is not sure whether this is good news – or even if the person at the IAU is right. When he expressed his concerns, the IAU advisor (Charlie never did quite catch her name) suggested that he attend the ‘Legal Clinic’ run by undergraduate law students at the university with the help of a local firm of solicitors.

You are one of the law students participating in the ‘Legal Clinic’. The person Charlie saw at the IAU has made an appointment for Charlie to see you. The only information that you have at the moment is that set out above.

  • On the basis of what you are told above, do you think that Charlie has a lease or a licence? Why?
  • Make a list of the questions that you will need to ask Charlie if you are to advise him with greater certainty. What do you need to know, and why?