The son of a Nigerian chief has failed in a bid to evict his step mother from his late father's property, after a judge agreed with a little-known rule known as "lifetime interest".
Obinna Anaghara had taken the claim to the High Court and wanted to boot his step mother from her North London home, where she had lived since 1984. He claimed the house was part of his late father’s estate and she should be charged for the time she lived there.
Mr Anaghara argued his half brother, his half brother’s wife and their four young children, who had also been living in the house since 2016, should also leave the property.
However, his step mother and father's third wife, Alice Anaghara, had successfully argued in County Court she had a “lifetime interest” in the property and the judge ruled she could remain in the house cost free. The High Court has supported this decision.
The father and husband, known as Ferdinand and "the Chief", bought the property as an investment in 1976 but only visited around three times a year.
He had left no specific instructions on who should benefit from the property. However, he had told his wife on several occasions the house was her's, and as long as she paid for the upkeep, she could stay there as long as she wished, the court heard.
Mrs Anaghara won the case after evidencing she had paid household and council tax bills over the years, and spent £50,000 refurbishing the property. She said would have bought her own home when she was younger had there been any doubt the property would not remain her home.
Mr Anaghara was representing his father's estate. The dispute broke out after he issued an eviction notice to the family members in 2017, 10 years after his father's death.
Mr Anaghara appealed the ruling, taking the case to the High Court. He claimed the original ruling was overly generous to his stepmother because she had lived in the property for years without paying rent, which would add up to between £450,000 and £630,000. However, the case was dismissed.
Last year the number of cases that reached the court reached an all-time high.