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Mew v Tristmire C.A. [2012] 1 W.L.R. 852; [2011] H.L.R. 47; [2012] L. & T.R. 6

DATE: 28 Jul 2011

This was an unusual dispute about the status of houseboats in Bembridge harbour. The houseboats were lifted out of the water and supported on wooden piles. Thomas Jefferies acted for the landowner who was seeking possession. The occupiers claimed to have the right to remain as assured tenants. The first question was whether the boats were chattels, in which case no tenancy could arise, or part of the land, in which case a tenancy could arise. The next question was whether any implied tenancy could have arisen and if so how. 

The Judge found in favour of the landowner, and his judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

It was held that the boats remained chattel as they could have been removed, and had always been treated as chattels sold by one owner to the next. No tenancy could be implied of the boat itself. The harbour authority had granted a lease or licence of the site and supporting structure, but there was no basis for implying a new lease of the boat itself. they were still held under licences.

The Court of Appeal also held that the judge was entitled to make a prospective order for possession even though the right to possession had not arisen at the time of his judgment.

Thomas Jefferies acted for the successful Respondent