Land Law

Ninth edition

by Mark Davys

Three Students: a Further Tale

Alexia, Brian and Charlie are three students who share a four-bedroom house with their landlady, Denise. However, Denise now wishes to sell the house and Alexia (who has recently inherited £70,000 from a great-uncle), Brian and Brian’s father are planning to buy it. When Alexia told her parents that she might buy the house, they were so impressed by her ‘mature and responsible attitude’ to her inheritance that they immediately offered to pay her legal costs. Alexia hadn’t even thought about hiring her own lawyer – but her mother said that it was important that Alexia was separately advised from Brian and his dad: Alexia forgot to ask why.

At the beginning of the third week of the semester, Denise began to push the students for a decision. Alexia, Brian and Eric (Brian’s dad) met to talk things over. They decided that they would offer the asking price, provided that this included all of the furniture. Denise produced a brief ‘memorandum of sale’ which she asked the others to sign. Brian and Eric did so, but Alexia, remembering what her mother had said, was very reticent. In the end she signed so as to avoid a row with the others. However, she immediately scanned the memo into her computer and emailed a copy to her parents, who passed it on to their solicitor.

Last night, Alexia met Frank, a neighbour, whilst walking home from the bus stop. Frank told Alexia lots of things that she didn’t know about the terrace in which he and Alexia live. He mentioned a right of way running across the back gardens of all the houses in the terrace of which his and Denise’s houses were part. He also told Alexia how pleased he was not to be at her end of the terrace: apparently the local council has just given planning permission for a wind turbine nearby. Frank thinks will make the houses at that end of the terrace almost unsellable.

By the time Alexia said good-bye to Frank at the gate of his front garden, she was beginning to wonder whether she had been all that ‘mature and responsible’ after all – and whether it was too late to get out of the arrangement with Denise …