Bruton v London and Quadrant Housing Trust

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Bruton v London and Quadrant Housing Trust
CourtHouse of lords
Decided24 June 1999
Citation(s)[2000] 1 AC 406; [1999] 3 WLR 150; [1999] 3 All ER 481
Cases citedStreet v Mountford [1985] A.C. 809;
Legislation citedEmergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939; Housing Act 1985; Landlord and Tenant Act 1985; Law of Property Act 1925
Case history
Prior action(s)tbc
Subsequent action(s)Kay v Lambeth London Borough Council [2005] QB 352
Court membership
Judge(s) sittingLord Slynn of Hadley; Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle; Lord Hoffmann; Lord Hope of Craighead; Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough
Leases; Licenses; Possession of Land

Bruton v London and Quadrant Housing Trust [2000] 1 AC 406 examined the rights of a 'tenant' in a situation where the 'Landlord', a charitable housing association had no authority to grant a tenancy, but in which the 'tenant' sought to enforce against the association under Landlord and Tenant Statutes.


The Association, a charitable organisation was granted a licence by a Local Authority (LA) in a London Borough to utilise empty housing stock due for redevelopment, for the short term accommodation of homeless people. Mr Bruton was granted a 'licence' to stay in the property. However, Mr Bruton sought to enforce against the Authority under the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) S.11, with regard to what he viewed as the Landlord's responsibilities to repair and keep in good condition the property.


It was held by the court, that in accordance with the decision in Street v Mountford, Mr Bruton had in fact obtained exclusive possession for a term in exchange for consideration, and that there was a tenancy agreement in place.

There was discussion relating to the LA, who would have been unable to grant a tenancy as it would have been acting Ultra Vires, and it was argued that the Association in turn could not in law provide a tenancy either. This issue was dealt with in subsequent cases in that the agreement was exclusively between the tenant and the Association, and the LA was not party to the contractual tenancy.

Although the court accepted that the LA could not permit the granting of a tenancy, they held nevertheless that the relationship between Bruton and the Association was on the facts, that of landlord and tenant.


Some confusion arose out of the decision in Bruton. Traditionally it has been held that an Estate interest can only arise out of another interest. A licence is not an estate interest, and provides essentially only access to another's estate. However, the implication of the Bruton case "controversially confirms the existence in English Law of the phenomenon of the contractual or non-proprietary lease"[1].

It has been suggested by some commentators however, that Bruton was driven by policy as established in Street and Mountford, that individuals enjoying exclusive possession should be protected[2]. Others have commented that the decision has led to a large amount of housing stock, which might otherwise have been used for the temporary accommodation of the homeless and vulnerable, being left empty and unused.

External links


  1. Gray & Gray, 'Land Law', Oxford 2007, P.158
  2. Susan Bright, L.Q.R. 1998, 114(Jul), 345-351