Bits – tenant fees, airbnb and more

The Tenant Fees Bill is now underway. The first reading was on 2 May 2018. The Bill page is here. The Govt response to the CLG select committee report on the proposals is here.

Notable in the the Bill is a proposed ban on serving a s.21 notice while an unlawful fee has been taken and held. There is, I’d say, a long way to go on the Bill, both in time and in detail. We’ll come back to it in more detail later on.

On airbnb/short let use, HHJ Jan Luba QC dismissed an appeal against the decision in Bermondsey Exchange Freeholders Limited v Kevin Geoghegan Conway, upholding the District Judge’s findings that short let use was in breach of lease clauses stating:

Not to use or permit the use of the Demised Premises or any part thereof otherwise than as a residential flat with the occupation of one family only.

Not at any time to assign sub-let or part with possession of part only of the Demised Premises.

Not to part with or share possession of the whole of the Demised Premises or permit any company or person to occupy the same save by way of an assignment or underlease of the whole of the Demised Premises.

Without prejudice to the absolute prohibitions hereinbefore contained not to assign or underlet the whole of the Demised Premises without the prior written consent of the Landlord such consent not to be unreasonably withheld.

The grant of an injunction was also upheld, given the history of use, the failure to admit that use and the denial of breach of lease. Central London County Court, 1 May 2018.

While on Airbnb use, I had missed this First Tier Tribunal decision on breach of lease from 2016 – 20 Nottingham Place Management Company Ltd v Cooper LON/00BK/LBC/2016/0020

In this case, airbnb/short let use of the whole property was found to be a breach of the following lease clauses:

(i) That the Lessee will use the demised premises for the purposes of a self-contained private residence in one family occupation only and/or for office purposes And will not divide or sub-let part of the demised premises (Clause 4)

(ii) Nor shall any act deed or thing be done in or about or in connection with the property which shall or may be or become a nuisance (whether indicatable or not) or which may grow or lead to the damage annoyance inconvenience or disturbance of the Lessors the tenants or occupants of any other flats in the property … or detrimental to the reputation of the property as a block of high-class private residential flats (Clause 5)

(iii) That the Lessee will not use or permit to be used the demised premises or any part thereof … for any purpose which would depreciate the character and reputation of the demised premises and the property (Clause 6);

(iv) That the Lessee will not do or permit to be done in or upon the demised premises or any part thereof anything which may render any policy or policies of insurance effected in respect of the property by the Lessors void or voidable (Clause 12);

(v) That the Lessee will not assign underlet or part with the possession of the whole (or part as aforesaid) of the demised premises (except by way of mortgage or charge of this Lease) without the prior consent in writing of the Lessors such consent not be unreasonably withheld (Clause 13).

It is becoming clearer and clearer that airbnb/short let use breaches common lease covenants.

Lastly, and rather immodestly, I am delighted, though utterly surprised, to be shortlisted for legal aid housing lawyer of the year in the LALYs, alongside Kate Hignett of Henry Hyams Solicitors and Miles Richardson of Citizens Advice Southend.

As far as I’m concerned, being shortlisted is an honour enough. Housing lawyers in general are fabulous and should be celebrated. On that note, we should also note that James Stark of Garden Court North – housing barrister of high repute and friend of the blog – is shortlisted for legal aid barrister of the year. So there are housing law people to root for aplenty in July LALY awards.

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 Assured Shorthold tenancy, Housing law - All, Leasehold and shared ownership and tagged , .

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