Cases where the Ps were paying rent for accommodation to Ds, and the agreements stated that they did not have exclusive possession and would have to share the property with other people to whom Ds might give possession, as well as stating that the freeholder would keep keys. CA held that Ps were tenants since, on a true construction, there was “exclusive possession” (definite periods and rents were not in contention). If the true bargain was that the defendants were entitled to exclusive possession of the premises unless and until the plaintiffs required them to share their occupation, the defendants were tenants. Here the claims that Ps could be forced to share possession was a pretence, while the retention of keys by D was ineffective.
Lord Donaldson MR: “Provisions as to keys, if not a pretence which they often are, do not have any magic in themselves. It is not a requirement of a tenancy that the occupier shall have exclusive possession of the keys.” What matters is the reason for having the keys, e.g. quickly entering in the case of a fire. Exclusive possession is determined on the facts: Here Ds were taking no serious steps to try and find other occupants and was not treated as a serious possibility. Therefore it must have been pretence.