Q&As

If A grants a verbal licence to B to build a garage on A's land for B's sole use, what is the position in respect of the garage when B sells his adjoining property if the licence is silent on this issue? Does the use and ownership of the garage pass to the new owner?

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Produced in partnership with Desmond Kilcoyne
Published on LexisPSL on 05/07/2018

The following Property Disputes Q&A produced in partnership with Desmond Kilcoyne provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • If A grants a verbal licence to B to build a garage on A's land for B's sole use, what is the position in respect of the garage when B sells his adjoining property if the licence is silent on this issue? Does the use and ownership of the garage pass to the new owner?

If A grants a verbal licence to B to build a garage on A's land for B's sole use, what is the position in respect of the garage when B sells his adjoining property if the licence is silent on this issue? Does the use and ownership of the garage pass to the new owner?

This situation may give rise to a classic proprietary estoppel. A proprietary estoppel arises where:

  1. an owner of land (O) makes an assurance or promise, or gives encouragement, to another party (C) to believe that it has or will enjoy some right or benefit over O’s property

  2. C reasonably relies on that assurance, promise or encouragement

  3. C suffers detriment as a result of its reliance, and

  4. then O seeks to take unconscionable advantage of C by denying it the right or benefit which it expected to receive

See generally Practice Note: Estoppel and property law.

However, where the assurance was that the assured party (ie C) was to enjoy a benefit in the nature of a ‘licence’, it remains a matter of doubt in law whether the estoppel licence is a type of equitable proprietary right. While there are decided cases which indicate that the estoppel renders such a licence irrevocable, and further that such a licence can be enforced against a successor in title with notice in unregistered land, the caselaw

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