‘I should have been a tenant’ – more on Bristol property guardians

As far as property guardians go, all the action seems to be taking place in Bristol. As well as the issues (and possession claim) noted here, there is a separate possession claim going on, with Camelot seeking possession against Greg Roynon, who was also living in one of the former nursing homes.

From the Bristol Post report of the trial hearing here, it appears that Mr Roynon, represented by Russell James, is arguing – at least partly – that Camelot’s notice to quit was of no effect because he was in fact a tenant.

This seems to be on the basis that he was given a specific room, which he could lock against all others, and that he had to inform Camelot if he wished to move to another room. Rather than rooms being agreed amongst guardians, Camelot’s officer admitted that this was managed by Camelot.

The argument seems to be a classic Street v Mountford one – that regardless of the description in the agreement of this being a licence (not ‘lease’ as the Bristol Post rather confusing has it), the factual situation was exclusive possession, for a term, for a rent and therefore a tenancy. I’ve always thought that some arrangements (though not property guardian set ups in general) were potentially vulnerable to such an argument. Indeed I have seen a council TRO make just such an argument against another Guardian firm.

Camelot, represented by Elizabeth Fitzgerald (who is I am sure very able but not yet at least, I think, the QC that the Bristol Post has her), denied this and relied on the terms of the licence agreement. But then Camelot also appear to be taking a different line of argument.

According to this report of the hearing (a very definitely not impartial report, I must add) Camelot appear to be arguing that the agreement with Bristol City Council to ‘protect and secure’ the properties was with Camelot Property Management Limited (CPM). However, the agreements with the guardians to occupy the property were with Camelot Guardian Management Ltd (CGM), who had no authorised possession of the building.

Thus, as far as I can make out, the issue of licence/tenancy was solely between Mr Roynon and CGM, but CPM were entitled to immediate vacant possession of the building as CPM had no contractual or legal obligation to the guardians.

From the reports, I can’t make out whether the issue of the basis on which CGM were authorised to put in guardians was addressed, but it also seems that the ‘separation of powers’ argument had some evidential issues.

Camelot also appear to have asserted an ulterior purpose in Mr Roynon defending the case, to discredit them and then pick up Guardian contracts. This was denied,

The hearing was, alas, adjourned to 8 February.

As the case is part heard, I don’t propose to make any comments on the arguments made. We will just have to wait and see. But it is certainly interesting to see some of the issues around property guardian set ups being played out in court.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Housing law - All, Licences and occupiers, Possession and tagged .

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