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Elitestone Ltd. v. Morris [1997]

Headnote

This case was seen by the House of Lords. It concerned the definition of land and when an object transitions from being an object placed upon the land to being part and parcel of the land itself.

Elitestone owned a bungalow which they leased to Morris in return for a fee. Elitestone sought to evict him, but Morris claimed he had a protected tenancy under the Rent Act 1977. To show this, he had to show he had a property right to the land, meaning his bungalow had to be part of the land and not a chattel sat atop of it. Using the annexation test, the House of Lords found for Morris, holding that the bungalow was part and parcel of the land meaning Morris had a protected tenancy.

The issue of the case was whether a bungalow constructed on land was part and parcel of that land, thereby allowing the occupier to remain on the land under the Rent Act 1977, or if it was merely a chattel sat atop the land meaning the occupier could be evicted.

This issue is determined by the annexation test, which assesses whether an object is a chattel (an object placed upon but not part of the land) or part and parcel of the land (OR a fixture). It consists of a degree element and a purpose element.

The degree element assesses the extent to which the object is fixed to the land. This involves the ease with which it could be removed, and whether the object or the land would be damaged in the process.

The purpose element objectively assesses whether the object was intended to be a permanent part of the land, or a temporary addition. There are two separate tests depending on the nature of the object. If the object is a small and transportable object, the test is whether it was added for the enjoyment of the object itself (e.g. picture), or if it was added as a means of better enjoying the land (e.g. sink). If the object was a larger structure such as a house or shed, it becomes a more common sense matter of whether it was designed and installed to be removable without damage, or whether it was placed on the land with no intention of removing it in the future. Moreover, permanence is a common feature of both tests, assessing whether it was objectively intended to be a permanent addition to the land or a temporary installment.

Appellate History

  • House of Lords [1997] – Decision Approved
  • Court of Appeal [1995] – Decision Rejected
  • Swansea County Court [1994] – Decision Approved

Topic

  • Defining Property Rights

See

  • Holland v. Hodgson
  • Webb v. Frank Bevis Ltd.

Submission Details

Reviewed By Ross Birkbeck
Submitted By Louis Stripp
First Published 12th July 2021

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Updated on August 11, 2022

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