Land Law

Even though Joanna paid an initial contribution towards the house, she does not have a legal interest. This is because the house was registered in only Ian's name and therefore he is the sole legal owner. However, she does have an equitable interest due to her contribution towards the purchase price. She would have to register her interest as a restrictive protection as her interest occurs due to a resulting trust. If she has registered this as a minor interest than this would bind Merton building society and prevent them from claiming possession of the house. If however this interest was not registered, she may still have an overriding interest.

Overriding interests are covered under section 70.(1) of the Land Registration Act 1925 and more recently in Schedule 3 of the LRA 2002. Paragraph 2 grants statutory rights to people in ‘actual occupation' and states that such an interest exists "at the time of disposition to a person in actual occupation, so far as relating to land which he is in actual occupation." Therefore, someone in actual occupation of a piece of land may have an overriding interest. There is however much litigation regarding what constitutes ‘actual occupation.'

The main way in which actual occupation can be achieved through permanent residence and in this case it is clear that Joanna is in permanent residence. For a claim to succeed under this category there must be not only actual occupation but also an interest or right to the property. Joanna again fulfills this requirement due to her contribution to the purchase price of Ivy Lodge. However, although Kate is clearly in actual occupation, she has does not have rights in the property as she has not contributed towards the purchase price.

Whether or not Laura is in actual occupation is more debatable. She is again clearly in permanent residence, but there are exceptions to this rule. To have a claim of actual occupation, Laura would have to prove that she was in occupation at the time of the completion of the mortgage . Although she was not present before the completion on July 1st 1996, her belongings and furniture were present, as Joanna had bought them with her. The courts have decided that such