Almshouses Tenancy Agreement
The Court of Appeal upheld the District Court`s decision and found that, although Ms Watts had an exclusive right of ownership, she was not legally entitled to exclusive ownership and therefore had a licence rather than a lease. In his judgment, Sir Terence Etherton MR stated that “. there is a distinction between legal exclusive ownership. and a personal right to exclusive possession. Legal exclusive ownership allows the occupant to exclude from the property any other, including the rightful owner. Exclusive employment may or may not be legal property. If so, the user is a tenant. If this is not the case, the user is not a tenant and occupies another property. Ms Watts argued that she occupied the hospice as a periodic tenant, given that she owned wholly owned property and created the letter of appointment of a weekly “rent” and the terms of a “lease”. The charity argued that its activities were based on the terms of the letter of appointment and was therefore a delegate with a single licence of occupation. The Borough Court accepted the charity and found that Ms Watts was a licensee and not a tenant. Ms Watts appealed and the significance of the case to Almshouse`s charities was such that the National Association of Almshouses (NAA) and the Charity Commission were allowed to intervene on appeal. I would suggest that we take a close look at the Supreme Court`s decision in McDonald`s vs.
McDonald`s case. Unfortunately, every human rights case in the homes of the poor will have to overcome very similar obstacles. This is my Christmas gift to land law students across the UK. This is a discussion of the very important decision of the Court of Appeal of Watts v Stewart  EWCA Civ 1247, which questioned whether non-profit accommodation providers (in this case poor people`s homes, but in principle the issue is broader in the case) are exceptions to Street v Mountford`s mantra than sole ownership for a fixed term at rent = rental. This point was raised for Ms Watts by Mark Wonnacott QC (who successfully argued for the tenant at Mexfield Housing Co-Op against Berrisford), whose story of the landlord and tenant should have been on everyone`s Santa Claus list. The question also arises as to whether Ms. Watt`s right to respect her housing under article 14 has been discriminated against because of the lack of property security granted to the inhabitants of the houses of the poor. Watts` decision followed an earlier Court of Appeal decision on the rights of residents of poor people`s homes.