Home Information Cases Clear Channel UK Ltd v Manchester City Council (2004)

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Clear Channel UK Ltd v Manchester City Council (2004)

Summary

An agreement for the erection and use of advertising hoardings had been not intended to grant a tenancy of the land on which they were built to the company that had erected the hoardings.

Facts

The claimant company (C) sought a declaration that it held tenancies of 13 advertising sites belonging to the defendant landlord (M). M counterclaimed for a declaration that C occupied those and a 14th site as licensee. M had agreed that C should erect advertising stations on 13 sites in return for an agreement that C pay rent calculated as a percentage of profit. M gave C licence to enter the land and C erected concrete bases to which advertising hoardings were bolted. Draft written agreements were prepared but never executed. At the end of the period covered by the agreement M purported to determine C's rights of occupation, but C claimed it had a tenancy protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Part II. C submitted that (1) it had enjoyed exclusive possession of the area occupied by the concrete bases and that it had factual possession of the sites; (2) it was an annual tenant of the 14th site.

Held

(1) Whether the nature of C's use of the sites was referable to a tenancy or a licence did not depend on the labels used by the parties but on the substantive rights and obligations conferred and imposed on C, Street v Mountford (1985) AC 809 applied. On the facts, the sites were not the concrete bases but larger undefined areas of land owned by M. Only general addresses were referred to in the draft documentation, not specific locations. Further, the draft documentation did not contain an express grant of a right of way to and from the sites, which was a surprising omission if the demise was limited to the concrete bases. The terms of the agreement made far better sense as licences than tenancies. As the sites were undefined areas of land owned by M it was clear that there had been no intention to grant exclusive possession to C. (2) The draft documents in relation to the 14th site showed an intention to grant a lease over the area occupied by the advertising station. It was much larger than the other structures and would be much more difficult to remove. The inclusion of a prohibition against assignment, sub-letting or parting with possession clearly showed an intention to grant a tenancy. C occupied the 14th site as a periodic annual tenant. C's acts of use, maintenance and control of the site for the purposes of its business amounted to occupation for the purposes of s.23 of the Act, having regard to the purpose of the provisions of Part II of the Act, the nature of the site and the use to which it might reasonably be put. Graysim Holdings Ltd v P & O Property Holdings 94 LGR 553 applied.

Applications refused.

Chancery Division
Etherton J
Judgment date
14 December 2004
References

​LTL 23/12/2004; [2004] EWHC 2873 (Ch)