Law of Property

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In this scenario, there are several parties who have, or who acquire, an interest of some sort in the property known as Greyoaks, a large freehold, registered property. Briefly, the principal parties include the registered proprietor of Greyoaks, Ophelia. As the registered freehold proprietor, it is Ophelia who has the ability to grant the various rights and interests which she subsequently does. From the outset, she is free to dispose of the property howsoever she wishes. She begins a relationship with Paul, a landscape gardener, who becomes the first of the parties to acquire an interest in the property. This is merely an equitable interest, but as we shall see, it might well be enforceable against later purchasers of the property. Secondly there is Rick, an old friend of Ophelia, who also, ostensibly, gains an interest in the property. This is the first legal interest created by way of a disposition by Ophelia of a lesser estate in the property than her own freehold estate. Rick enjoys a legal term of years absolute, or a leasehold. The lease, however, refers to the period commencing in January 2006, and as such, he is storing his belongings there merely as a licensee. Nest there is Susan, who is a guest in a distinct part of the property known as ‘the Stables’ which have been converted into holiday homes. In this capacity, Susan is a mere licensee, with the same rights as any hotel guest. When Susan seeks to purchase the freehold of this part of Greyacre, it seems as though contracts are exchanged for this. An agreed date for completion (that is, when Susan can take possession of the property and when legal title passes to her name) is set at 1 November. Until such time as completion takes place, Susan remains a mere licensee on the property, and has only a contractual right as opposed to a proprietary interest in the property. This will afford her less protection against Forecast Developers Ltd, and will be considered in more detail later. The decorator, Ron, acquires no interest whatsoever in the property. When Ophelia becomes ill and her relationship with Paul breaks down, Tabitha, her sister, assumes responsibility for dealing with the property. This is where the problems begin to develop. From Forecast Developers Ltd’s point of view, they believe they are dealing with someone with full authority and full knowledge of the property in question. In fairness to Tabitha, Ophelia does not inform her of the interests which are already in existence at the time of her illness (that is, September 2005). As far as Tabitha was aware, she was granted the authority to dispose of the whole estate, unencumbered by subsisting interests of which she was unaware that any existed. This is complemented by the fact that the Register shows no ‘adverse entries’ when the solicitor acting for Forecast examined it. This fact also throws doubt on whether the interests which were created by Ophelia earlier on are valid (at least legally as opposed to merely equitably).

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