Man promises mistress a home for life if she leaves her home country to live with him

In Ungurian v Lesnoff ([1990] Ch. 206) L was Polish and had a flat in Poland which she had the right to occupy for the rest of her life. She also had a promising academic career there. She entered into a relationship with U. U bought a house in London with the intention that L would be able to live there for the rest of her life. In addition to giving up her flat and career, L carried out substantial work on the house. The relationship broke down and U sought possession. L claimed that she was entitled to live there for the rest of her life. Vinelott J. referred to the authorities concerning the common intention constructive trust (Grant v Edwards and Eves v Eves especially). The common understanding in this case was that if L left Poland to live with U then he would provide her with the security of a home (at 222) for the rest of her life (224). An irrevocable licence would not give full effect to the intention. U held the flat on trust to permit L to live there for the rest of her life unless U sold it with L’s consent and bought her another residence.

Following Bannister v Bannister, this made L a tenant fo life under the Settled Land Act 1925. She was entitled to call on U to execute a vesting deed in her favour. She could sell the house and buy another property or invest the proceeds and enjoy the income produced by this investment.

Michael Lower

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