Friday, 13 December 2013

Land Law: Proprietary & Promisory Estoppel

Q: My father allowed a lady and her five children to live on his land and chattel house. It has been about 8 years and he has decided he wanted to make improvements. The "lady" has never paid rent. He asked the "lady" to leave and she took him to court claiming she made renovations to the home. The case was heard in court and she was awarded the house and my father remains the landowner. How is this possible??

The text I used in Law school

A: He lost because of the doctrine of Proprietary Estoppel


Proprietary estoppel arises where:-
(a) the owner of land (O) induces, encourages or allows the Claimant (C) to believe that he has or will enjoy some right or benefit over O’s property
(b) in reliance upon this belief, C acts to his detriment** to the knowledge of O and
(c) O then seeks to take unconscionable advantage of C by denying him the right or benefit which he expected to receive

The leading case on the matter is Dillwyn v Llewelyn [1862]:
The father thought he had given his younger son land in Wales, in signing a memorandum and presenting it to him “for the purpose of furnishing himself with a dwelling-house”. The memorandum was not by deed. The son built his home on the land. When the father died, the elder son disputed his brother’s title.


It is just as easy to fall into the other category of estoppel; Promissory Estoppel.

Promissory Estoppel is when one party depends on the promise or conduct of another and acts in his/her detriment in reliance on that promise.
  First established in: Hughes v Metropolitan Railway (1877)
  Clearly laid down in: Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd [1947]
  Fully restated and defined by Lord Denning in: Combe v Combe [1951]


When can the doctrines be used?
Proprietary estoppel can be used to take the owner to court, whereas, promissory estoppel can only be used as a defence when taken to court by the owner. 


Equitable Estoppel: Possible merger of Proprietary & Promissory Estoppel
In Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher (1988), the Court handed down its most significant decision on the topic of estoppel. The significance of this case was that it consolidated promissory and proprietary estoppels into the single, and broader, principle of equitable estoppel!



**Detriment
 Alan v El Nasr [1972]
Detrimental reliance is not a requirement of promissory estoppel. It only needs to be established that the promisor has changed their position

Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher (1988)
However, … minor expenditure such as day to day living expenses or minor repairs will not qualify.

14 comments:

  1. what are the rights of second generation children if their parent did not convey their rights and interest of their parent mother {second generation grandmother} to the beneficiaries of the will? Was the parent of second generation living on the property as tenants in common with the beneficiaries of the will?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to understand what you're asking, but I really don't know what you're talking about. You can send me a private e-mail with better explanation and more details.

      Delete
  2. Hello good day,
    I perused your blog where upon I came across your article on Proprietary/ promissory estoppel. I would like your opinion on this please.

    Situation: We have been living on a parcel of land since 1983. It was owned by my mother's uncle and he gave her perimission to live there. He gave her a handwritten letter statiing that he gave her permission to dwell on the said parcel of land and to run lights and water. He passed away a mere three years after and the deed to all lands went to his wife. My mother started paying the land ren tin the 1980's of which I have one original receipt, however upon his death his wife told my mom that she not renting land to anyone and therefore she not accepting any rent.
    I am now of age and trying to find out our rights. Throughout the years we have developed the land, we have renovated etc. I want to know if we have rights to the land and how I could pay for the years rent and continue paying, maybe by some kind of standing order.
    My guess is if they could have gotten us out of there, they would have done so a long time ago. They're always making some kind of problems when it comes to the land, however they have never done anything about it and as I said above, we have done renovations and developed the land as it is hilly land throughout the years.
    Your assistance and or advicewill be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello good day,

    Situation: We have been living on a parcel of land since 1983. It was owned by my mother's uncle and he gave her perimission to live there. He gave her a handwritten letter statiing that he gave her permission to dwell on the said parcel of land and to run lights and water. He passed away a mere three years after and the deed to all lands went to his wife. My mother started paying the land ren tin the 1980's of which I have one original receipt, however upon his death his wife told my mom that she not renting land to anyone and therefore she not accepting any rent.
    I am now of age and trying to find out our rights. Throughout the years we have developed the land, we have renovated etc. I want to know if we have rights to the land and how I could pay for the years rent and continue paying, maybe by some kind of standing order.
    My guess is if they could have gotten us out of there, they would have done so a long time ago. They're always making some kind of problems when it comes to the land, however they have never done anything about it and as I said above, we have done renovations and developed the land as it is hilly land throughout the years.
    Your assistance and or advice will be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This handwritten permission letter included anything regarding payment, i.e., rent?

      Delete
  4. No it didn't, just permission to dwell on a parcel of land with permission to run water and electricity

    ReplyDelete
  5. I did a couple months ago, I will re-send it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good day sir...firstly thank you for the good job you are doing.
    My wife and I along with our two children ages 6 and 11 have been living on land belonging to her mother ...I and my wife for over 17 years and our children from birth....her mother resides abroad for over 17 years now leaving us behind in the original wooden house that was on the land when she left...but because of its age was in a state of deterioration ...we continue living in the wooden house even until the birth of our first child...eventually we decided to demolish the old wooden house and replace it with a newer concrete structure. ..we informed her of our intention in doing this and she verbally consented for us to break down the old structure and build the new one.....we covered the entire cost in doing this....and we did so by ways of bank loans etc....hard work ..effort and sweat. ..she still lives in America and has never return to trinidad to date.....recently she started to treating me and my wife by ways of remind us that she owns the land and can have us removed...1..can she do this?.....does she have the right to do so.....where will this put us after all the time and money we invested knowingly to her..... don't we have a right to enjoy the efforts of our hard work at this time of our lives.....I don't have any pending legal matters with her or anyone pertaining to this. ...your knowledge pertaining to my rights in this situation will be greatly appreciated. ...thank you Sir.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your questions have already been answered in this post. You have nothing to worry about.

      Delete
  7. I am in a similar situation
    the owner informed me that he was selling his two thirds share while the other part owner occupies half of the house.the land is rented leased land.the house was built in 1946 and this part owner never paid for land rent,land taxes or any maintenance to the portion I occupy.they are asking for half a million dollars which is ridiculous as it is really worth one hundred thousand for the entire house.he is threatening me to smash my things if I don't leave.I change the rafters and galvanized,floor boards,upgraded the electrical wiring to 220v. Do I not have equity rights and more

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you renting? You didn't say if someone promised you the house. If so , who? How do you know it's worth $100k?

      How long have you been living there? Do you have receipts for the repairs?

      Delete
  8. Q: I have been living for the pass twenty-six years now on a parcel of land with belongs to my grandfather,he gave me one lot of land ten years ago, by a verbal agreement.I have developed that said land given to me.He has passed away one year ago and I want to construct my house on the land but my cousin who has a 'sign' in the deed, but does not specify(which piece is his) The cousin is saying it is his land and does not want me to build.However he was not present when this agreement took place, his mother, my father were witness to the agreement. Do I have any rights to this one lot of land? In the event I build my house on it and if he puts me in court for it, where do I stand...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't answer this question without looking at the deed and any other supporting documents.

      Delete

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