April 2010 Archive

Credit for occupational rent

The case of Murphy v Gooch (2007) declared that a co-owner is entitled to credit for occupational rent from the other co-owner even where payments have been made by one of the co-owners to the mortgage. The parties jointly purchased a property as a family home in 1991. The relationship broke down in 1993 following which Mr Gooch remained in sole occupation of the property until 2006 when Ms Murphy made an application under section 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

Bankrupt's spouse liable to pay rent

The appeal judgment in French v Barcham (2008) considered the extent to which a beneficial tenant in common who continues to reside in the property following the bankruptcy of the other beneficial tenant in common ought to compensate the bankrupt’s estate for this continued occupation. The judgment will be of comfort to trustees under fire from spouses and others as a result of Stack v Dowden.

Making the most out of IHT gift exemption

You can make a number of gifts each year to friends and family which will not be included in your estate, even if you die within seven years of making them. Every individual can make gifts of £3,000 per year, together with an unlimited number of gifts to different people of £250 each – gifts that are often made to children and grandchildren at Christmas or birthdays.

Quantifying beneficial interest in jointly-owned property

The House of Lords case of Stack v Dowden (2007) concerned the declaration of beneficial interests in relation to a property which was jointly owned by a co-habiting couple. It was established that in the event that such a property had to be divided and there was no expressed declaration as to the respective beneficial interests, the starting point would be that where there was joint legal ownership, the parties intended there would also be joint beneficial ownership in equal shares. If either party wished to show that they were entitled to a different share, the onus would be upon them to provide compelling evidence to support a claim for higher shares.

The right to a view

It is a long established principle in English Law, first recorded in 1610, that a land owner can not protect the view that he has from that land; the rationale is that it would unduly limit the freedom to build on one's own land and thereby hinder beneficial development. However this basic premise, under specific circumstances, has been successfully challenged in the Court of Appeal.
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