Land Law

Ninth edition

by Mark Davys


Click on the letter links below to access definitions of all key terms from the textbook.

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This glossary explains some of the less familiar and more technical words that you may encounter in land law texts. It provides a short (but by no means comprehensive) explanation of the word and (in most cases) a reference to the section of Land Law where the term is introduced or explained. If you do not find what you are looking for, consult the index to the textbook.


A self help remedy allowing a dominant tenement owner to enforce an easement (8.6).

Absolute interest
An interest that is neither conditional nor determinable (4.2). Note that title absolute refers to the best class of title available to a registered proprietor of an estate in land (15.6.1).

Adverse possession
The acquisition of title by dispossessing the original owner for the requisite period (see, generally, Chapter 13).

The act of transferring property to another.

Animus possidendi
Intention to possess, a requirement for title to be acquired by adverse possession (13.3.2).

The transfer of an interest in land, usually the interest of a landlord or tenant (5.3).

‘Authorised Guarantee Agreement’ (AGA)
A form of guarantee falling within section 16 of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 (6.3.2(b)).


Beneficial interest
The interest of a beneficiary; the equitable right to the benefits of the land (for example, occupation and rent) as distinct from the legal ownership vested in a trustee (2.4).

The person entitled in equity to land or other property held on trust (2.4); also used to describe persons entitled to benefit under a will.


An interest securing the payment of money. Although often used synonymously with mortgage, a charge does not automatically give the lender an estate in the land, but charges by way of legal mortgage do so by virtue of section 87 of the LPA 1925 (Chapter 7).

Property other than land (2.2.1). For historical reasons, leasehold estates are chattels real not real property (see 1.3.2), but this is rarely significant today.

Chattels real

A form of registered freehold that can be used to divide the ownership of a building or estate with shared common parts (6.5).

Common intention constructive trust
A trust relationship based on an express or implied agreement to share the ownership of land (14.3).

Conditional interest
An interest that gives the grantor the right to re-enter the property (and terminate the interest) if a specified event occurs or fails to occur; compare absolute interest, and determinable interest (4.2).

Constructive trust
One of a number of types of trust that arise by operation of law rather than express words (14.3; see also, resulting trusts at 14.2).

A formal legal document (other than a will) transferring property or title.

A form of ownership where title is shared between two or more people; for concurrent co-ownership, see Chapter 10.

A promise made in a deed.

The person to whom the promise in a covenant is made.

The person making the promise in a covenant.


A formal legal document satisfying the requirements of section 1 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 (12.5.1).

Demesne land
Land which the Crown owns for itself as feudal overlord (15.11)

A lease; the land is ‘demised’ to the tenant (5.3).

Determinable interest
An interest that lasts only until a specified event occurs or does not occur; compare absolute interest, and conditional interest (4.2).

The creation or transfer of an interest (12.4.2(b)).

Distress, also distraint
An ancient remedy for the non-payment of rent, entitling the landlord to seize goods belonging to the tenant: due to be abolished in 2012 (14.4.1(b)).

Dominant tenement
The land to which the benefit of a right, such as an easement is attached.


A right enjoyed over land (the servient tenement) for the benefit of another piece of land (the dominant tenement); see Chapter 8.

Entail, also fee tail
An interest in land that can only be inherited by the issue of the original grantor (4.2).

A right or remedy operating only in equity (2.3.2(b) and 2.3.3).

Equity of redemption
The rights of the mortgagor (borrower) in the land subject to the mortgage (7.2.2 and 7.4.1).

Equity’s darling
A bona fide purchaser of a legal estate for value without notice (16.2.2).

An interest in land that allows its owner exclusive possession of the land for a prescribed period (2.3.1 and 2.3.2). Alternatively, (i) the property of a deceased person, or (ii) an area of land.

Estate contracts
A contract for the creation or sale of an interest in land (12.3 and 12.4.2(b)).

An equitable doctrine preventing a person from denying facts stated by her or which she has led or allowed another to believe are true. There are various forms of estoppel, each with its own rules. Proprietary estoppel is the most common type of estoppel encountered when studying land law (see below and 14.4).

Exclusive possession
The rights of an owner of land, in particular the right to exclude other people, including a landlord, from the land (5.4.3).



Fee simple absolute in possession
The larger of the two legal estates and the basic unit of ownership in English land law; see Chapter 4).

Fee tail
An interest in land that can only be inherited by the issue of the original grantor (4.2).

An object that is part of the land (that is, not a chattel). There are rules as to who may remove different types of fixtures (2.2.1).

The transfer of legal and equitable title in mortgaged land to the mortgagee (lender), free from all the rights of the mortgagor (7.5.4).

Forfeiture, also right of entry
The right of a landlord to re-enter the land subject to a lease following a breach of covenant by the tenant (6.4.1(c) and 6.4.2(a)).

An estate of uncertain duration; now usually used to refer to the only such estate capable of existing at law, the fee simple absolute in possession (see Chapter 4).


The lease out of which a lesser leasehold estate has been granted (5.3).

Rights in property that survive the death of the owner, they can be inherited.


Implied trusts
Types of trust that are created other than by express words or statutory provision (11.2).

In gross
A right that exists without benefitting a dominant tenement.

A court order requiring a person to do or refrain from doing a specified act.

Interests capable of overriding, also overriding interests
Interests in a registered title capable of binding third parties even though they do not appear in the Title Register (15.8).

Ius accrescendi
The right of survivorship (10.3).

Inter vivos
‘Among the living’; taking effect during the lifetime of the transferor (compare a gift in a will, which will only take effect upon the death of the person making the gift).


Joint tenancy
A form of concurrent co-ownership in which all the co-owners own the whole title to the whole land; compare tenancy in common (10.3.1).


A term of years absolute in possession, the lesser of the two legal estates in land (see Chapter 5).

The tenant.

The immediate landlord.

Permission to enter on land.


‘Middle’ (as in mesne landlord at 5.3).

A person under 18 years of age.

Minor interest
An interest in registered land requiring protection by registration pursuant to the LRA 1925. The term is not used in the LRA 2002.

The transfer of property as security for a loan or other obligation; see, also, charge (Chapter 7).

The person to whom the interest in mortgaged land is granted, the lender (7.2.1).

The person creating a mortgage, the borrower (7.2.1).


Notice, doctrine of
The purchaser of a legal estate for value in an unregistered title is subject to any equitable interests of which she has notice. Such notice may be due to the actual knowledge of the purchaser (actual notice), knowledge that the law deems she has or should have (constructive notice) or the knowledge of her professional advisors (imputed notice): see 16.2.2.

Notice on the Register
An entry on the Title Register protecting the priority of the interest to which it refers (15.7).

Notice to quit
The method by which a landlord or a tent terminates a periodic tenancy.


A statutory procedure whereby a beneficial interest is detached from the land and transferred to the proceeds of sale (11.6.1).

Overriding interests, also interests capable of overriding
Interests in a registered title that are capable of binding third parties even though they do not appear in the Title Register (15.8).

Overriding lease
A lease granted under section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995.


Periodic tenancy
A tenancy for a specific period (monthly, yearly, etc.), which continues to run until one of the parties serves notice to quit (5.4.2(b)).

Acquisition of an easement by long user (8.5.2).

Profit à prendre
The right to take something from somebody else’s land (8.8).

Proprietary estoppel
An equitable doctrine enabling a claimant to enforce an informal representation or assurance relating to land that the claimant has relied upon to her detriment because it would be unconscionable for the person who made the representation or assurance to be allowed to enforce his strict legal rights (14.4).

Puisne mortgages
A legal mortgage of unregistered land not protected by the deposit of title deeds and which must be protected by registering a class C(i) land charge (16.3.2(a)).


An interest in land that would amount to an easement, but for the fact that the dominant and servient tenements are owned by the same person (8.4.3).



Real property
Usually used to refer to land, although leases are, in fact, chattels real.

Rectification of the Title Register
The correction of a mistake in the Title Register that prejudicially affects the title of the registered proprietor (15.9.1). Not to be confused with the equitable remedy of rectification (12.4.3(d)).

An interest in land that will not take effect until a prior interest has expired (for example, to A for life, remainder to B in fee simple).

Rent, also rent service
Usually shorthand for ‘rent service’, the payments made to a landlord by the tenant under the terms of the lease.

A periodic sum charged on freehold land (see LPA 1925, s 1(2)(b)). Not to be confused with rent service.

Resulting trusts
An implied trust in which the beneficial interest reverts to person who transferred the property held on trust or financed the acquisition of the property (14.2).

The right remaining to the grantor of an interest after that interest has been granted. For example, a landlord’s right to repossess the land at the end of the lease is the landlord’s reversion.

Reversionary leases
A lease with a term that will begin at a date in the future (5.4.2(a)).

Right of entry, also forfeiture
The right of a landlord to re-enter the land subject to a lease following a breach of covenant by the tenant (6.4.1(c) and 6.4.2(a)).


Historically, the right to possess a particular piece of land. Unity of seisin of the dominant tenement and servient tenement extinguishes an easement (8.4.3).

Servient tenement
The land which is subject to a right, such as an easement.

Settlement, also settled land
A disposition of property granting a series of successive interests in land. Previously employed to keep land ‘in the family’ and regulated under the Settled Land Act 1925, this method of land ownership is now almost obsolete.

The conversion of a joint tenancy into a tenancy in common (10.5).

Sub-lease (or sub-tenancy)
A lease granted by a landlord which is itself a tenant of the land. The sub-tenancy must terminate at least a day before the end of the headlease out of which it is granted (5.3).

Subject to contract
An express arrangement that the parties do not wish to have legally binding consequences until further steps, usually the completion of certain formalities, have been taken (12.1).


The use of an existing mortgage or charge to secure a further loan from the same lender.

Another word for ‘lease’. The two words can be used interchangeably, although tenancy tends to be used of shorter or informal leases.

Tenancy in common
A form of concurrent co-ownership in which the beneficial title is divided between the co-owners in separate; compare tenancy in common (10.3.2).

Term of years absolute
A lease.

An equitable doctrine allowing ownership to be divided between the legal owner and beneficiaries who have an equitable right to enjoy the land (2.4).

Trustee in bankruptcy
The person appointed to manage the estate of a person who is bankrupt.

Trust for sale
A trust where the property is held subject to an immediate and binding duty to sell it, although that duty may be postponed with the consent of all the trustees. The LPA 1925 originally provided that almost all land held concurrently by co-owners was held on a statutory trust for sale. The statutory assumption in favour of sale was repealed by the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 with effect from 1 January 1997 (see 11.1).


Words of severance
The words in the grant or transfer of land indicating that it is to be held by the new owners as tenants in common.

The abandonment of a legal right.