The case of Islington BC v Green Live Ltd, t/a Green Live Estate Agents is a useful reminder to landlords that the principles established in the House of Lords decision in Street v Mountford in 1985 still hold good and it is still the case that simply naming a document a "licence" will not necessarily mean that it is a true licence that has been granted.
In this case it was held that Green Live Ltd's use of a "licence" was deliberately designed to circumvent tenants' usual statutory protections. Green Live Ltd pleaded guilty to issuing licences to occupy as opposed to a tenancy under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and was fined.
The case upheld the established principles that if a landlord grants exclusive possession for a term, in return for the payment of rent, a tenancy will be created regardless of the intention of the parties, and whether or not the document is described as a "licence".
Landlords need to be cautious and ensure that they do not inadvertently grant security of tenure to their tenants.