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Street art is on the rise, but who owns it?

This case raises interesting points regarding whether a tenant is obliged to remove street art murals to comply with their repair obligations under a lease. The tenant arranged for a Banksy mural to be cut out of a wall without the landlord's permission (and sent to the US for sale). The judge held the tenant was not obliged to remove the mural in compliance with its repair obligation. In addition, the judge had to consider who owned the mural, being part of the demised premises which was very valuable. The judge held first, the default position is that every part of the property belongs to the landlord (the tenant has the burden of showing that an implied term should transfer ownership of part of the building to it instead), second, the fact the tenant was carrying out the removal under a repairing obligation does not justify an implied term that the tenant acquires ownership, third, even if a term may be implied with respect to the ownership of waste or chattels with minimal value, it does not follow that the same term should be implied for chattels with substantial value. In addition, the judge held that in circumstances where the value is attributable to the spontaneous actions of a third party, the landlord had the better right to that windfall than the tenant. Interesting case!

In a judgment handed down on 11 September in The Creative Foundation v Dreamland Leisure Limited [2015] EWHC 2556 (Ch), the High Court held that a tenant was not entitled to remove a Banksy mural from the wall of its leasehold property and must deliver it up to the claimant.”