This is the time of the year for lists to appear telling us fun facts about Christmas, from the fact that under Oliver Cromwell it was against the law to eat mince pies on Christmas Day in England to the fact that the Star of Bethlehem which the Wise Men followed to find the little baby Jesus was probably a comet or possibly Uranus!
A Christmas-related property fun fact seems like something of a contradiction in terms but, in an attempt in join in the festive spirit, here goes.
If Father Christmas enters your property on Christmas Eve to deliver presents to you or your children without your consent he is a trespasser.
Similarly, if Santa flies over your property with his sleigh and eight reindeers without your consent this could also be trespass because, if your property is freehold, or in certain circumstances leasehold, you own the airspace which is reasonably necessary for the use and enjoyment of the land up to the height of approximately 500-1000 feet above the roof.[*]
But, contrary to popular belief, trespassers will not be prosecuted by the police because trespass is a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence. Unless you can prove damage to your property, you can only sue Father Christmas for nominal damages for trespass.
And so, the one Christmassy fun fact you really need to know this year is that, as far as land law is concerned, Father Christmas is not a criminal.
And, unless Santa tries to squat in your house[†], he never will be.
What a relief!
A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo![‡]
[*]Section 76 Civil Aviation Act 1982.
[†]Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
[‡] Ebenezer Scrooge “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
Acknowledgement – Thanks go to Neil Handel, partner at Gateley Plc, for his contribution to this blog.