Link Lending Ltd v Bustard [2010]

Link Lending Ltd v Bustard [2010] EWCA Civ 424 is a significant English land law decision that addressed the concept of actual occupation in registered land, particularly in situations involving vulnerable individuals, such as those suffering from mental syndromes and susceptible to fraud. The central issue was whether an intention to return home, following a fraud-induced absence, could be deemed as actual occupation for the purposes of overriding interests, which bind new owners and lenders in domestic properties.

Mrs Noreen Hussain, through fraudulent means, took advantage of Ms Susan Bustard's mental handicap and persuaded her to transfer the ownership of a house in Middlesbrough in 2004. Subsequently, Ms Bustard was sectioned in 2007 and placed in a mental health hospital. The fraudster, Mrs Hussain, replaced the existing mortgage with Link Lending in 2008, defaulted, and the lender claimed possession, arguing that Ms Bustard had not been in actual occupation for over a year.

The key contention revolved around whether Ms Bustard's intermittent visits, her incapacity to live safely in the property, and her intention to return constituted actual occupation. The court held that, despite her absence at the time of the property transfer, Ms Bustard's persistent intention to return home, evidenced by regular visits and the presence of her furniture and personal effects, qualified as actual occupation.

The judgment emphasised a nuanced evaluation of the circumstances, considering factors such as the degree of permanence and continuity of presence, the intentions and wishes of the occupant, the length of absence, and the nature of the property and personal circumstances. The court rejected the lender's argument that Ms. Bustard's situation did not meet the criteria of actual occupation.

The court's decision underscored the importance of a hybrid objective-subjective test in determining actual occupation, particularly in cases involving vulnerable individuals. The judgment criticised the lender's reliance on a mere drive-by inspection and suggested that physical inspections in valuations should consider legal occupancy.

Notably, the court did not delve into other means of constructive notice, such as under land registration, where the details of the transaction indicated recent ownership and undervalue. The case did not address certain errors in the lender's decision to lend to the borrower, the fraudster, against the previous owner.

In conclusion, this case contributes to the evolving understanding of actual occupation in land law, especially in situations involving vulnerable individuals and fraudulent activities. The decision emphasises a contextual evaluation of the circumstances to determine whether a person is in actual occupation of the property, providing clarity on the factors that should be weighed in such assessments.
Back to blog
UOL Case Bank

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.