Fairground Dispute Triggers Tenancy Rights Test Case

Tenants are generally able to lay hands on physical copies of their leases. However, in one case concerning disputed pitches at an annual fair, the High Court analysed the circumstances in which conduct and the passage of time can give rise to a legally enforceable landlord/tenant relationship.

The fair dated back to the 17th Century and a woman had held two pitches there for many years, as her uncle and great uncle had done before her. A dispute arose after the local authority refused to allow her to bring a particular fairground ride onto one of the pitches on the basis that it was too large for the site.

The woman argued that she held an annual periodic tenancy of both pitches for a reasonable period that being the five days of the fair and that the council’s refusal amounted to a breach of her right to quiet enjoyment of the properties. Her claim to tenancy rights was based on the length of time that she and her family had used the pitches and the terms, including payment of fees, on which the council had permitted them to do so.

In dismissing her claim, however, the Court found on the evidence that she had no right to exclusive possession of either pitch and no continuing legal rights as against the council. Her status had never been any more than that of a licensee, occupying the site under an annual grant. As such, she did not have the benefit of an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment and there was thus no legal basis for her monetary claim.

Holland v Oxford County Council.

Rex CowellCommercial Leases