Definition of ‘single household’?

Definition of ‘single household’?

9:07 AM, 20th June 2017, About 4 years ago 32

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The head lease on a 2-bedroom flat that I rent out says: ‘Not to use or suffer to be used the Demised Premises for any purpose whatsoever other than as a private residence for occupation by a single household . . . ‘ Due to problem with some lettings, particularly those involving students, the management company are saying that they will now enforce this clause, meaning that no flat can be occupied by two or more ‘friends’.

This makes letting a 2-bedroom flat in an area where the overseas student market is the primary one somewhat problematical because I could presumably let only to a couple (whether married or not) or to two people who are related.

What is the definition of a single household in relation to a lease?

Many thanks




by Alan Bromley

10:01 AM, 22nd June 2017, About 4 years ago

Thank you William, this is very helpful. The lease does not define what it means by a 'single household' (nor does it reference the Housing Act) so the freehold company would have to argue its case on the basis of case law presumably. To Yvonne's comment, the landlord can't define what they mean by the term outside of the lease and while they have stated that 'two friends sharing' is not allowed, this seems to make the letting of a 2-bedroom flat impossible except for a couple who want to pay the extra to have a spare room.

No one has yet said that they have addressed this issue in court, which would be interesting. I am loathe to sell the flat so will sit tight for now and see how things pan out.

by Chris Houghton

14:53 PM, 21st July 2017, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Alan Bromley" at "22/06/2017 - 10:01":

The overall conclusion seems to be that it is unenforceable as there is no clear definition. I think that Alan has the same property management company as myself in the same location. They are trying to stop students living on the development, although a member of the residents association has quoted that students are not excluded, if this is enforced, it will be impossible to let to a couple unless they are in a relationship. How do you ask that question to potential tenants?

by Wendy

10:55 AM, 31st December 2020, About 6 months ago

I have an active Court Case running currently (Jan 2021) seeking a determination from the First Tier Tribunal on the definition of household in our lease which the landlord has interpreted as the definition in The Housing Act 2004. For all the reasons and questions I am reading by you all here, this has to be determined once and for all. So far we have been legally advised that the definition of the word 'household' should start with the dictionary definitions to be found as a lease is not a document that should challenge the generally accepted meanings of any word in the English language, first and foremost. If your lease does not otherwise 'define' the meaning of 'household' then most dictionary definitions agree that it does not only mean a group of family members, but also a group of unrelated people who share meals or living spaces together. This case is due in Court around May/June 2021 and I will endeavour to update you all as it has been massive issue for us, upon which we have spent a small fortune to understand.

by Alan Bromley

12:53 PM, 31st December 2020, About 6 months ago

Thanks for the update Wendy, I'll be interested to see how it goes and I wish you luck.

I have a 2-bed flat in Hove which I let it to a couple and the brother of the woman in the relationship, which seemed to me to fit the definition of a household. The brother moved out and they wanted to let the second bedroom to an unrelated person but I said no, on the basis that I did not want to get challenged should there be any problems with the tenants.

by Bill irvine

13:17 PM, 31st December 2020, About 6 months ago

Hi Wendy

I've dealt with the question of the common household in relation to housing benefit (LHA) appeals.

In the Upper-tier tribunal case of AA vs Chesterfield BC vs Sec of State (CH/107/2010 Judge Wikely provides some explanation at paragraphs 30-35.
At paragraph 31 he comments:

"It is well established that the concept of a household is ultimately a matter of commonsense and common experience (see R(SB) 4/83). As the courts have held, a “household” refers to “people held together by a particular kind of tie” (Santos v Santos [1972] Fam 247 at 262). Furthermore, in the unreported jobseeker’s allowance case of CJSA/1321/2007 Mr Deputy Commissioner White helpfully listed various relevant considerations (at paragraph 24; the fact that he was concerned with the concept of household in the context of a married couple does not affect the general application of his guidance):

“In considering whether the appellant and his wife live in the same household, the new tribunal must consider all the circumstances of this case, including the evidence of independent financial arrangements. Matters which should be considered in coming to a common sense and realistic conclusion overall commonly include:
• the circumstances in which the appellant and his wife came to be
living in the same house;
• payment for the accommodation made by the appellant;
• arrangements for the storage and cooking of food;
• separate eating arrangements;
• domestic arrangements such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, and bits of household maintenance;
• the financial arrangements;
• evidence of family life.”
So, when considering the question you are not limited to family members.

In most of the cases I dealt with they did concern family members, but in the few that didn't, the tribunals accepted my argument that unrelated persons, listed on a tenancy agreement, with joint & several liability, with each having full access to the whole property could also be treated as forming a common household where the factors listed in the bullet points were also present.

I hope this helps.


by Yvonne Francis

17:26 PM, 31st December 2020, About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Wendy at 31/12/2020 - 10:55If your landlord has defined 'a household' in terms of the 2004 Housing Act, then I guess his interest is whether or not your tenancy does exceed the regulations which may put his property in a HMO class, requiring a License and complying with a huge amount of regulations.
However whatever the definition of 'a household' is, Councils decide for them selves exactly what that means in practise. I don't think a definition would help. In this area Councils would simply change the goal posts to achieve their aims. If 'household' is in your lease guided by 2004 Housing Act, then I can't blame your Landlord. He would only be protecting himself.
I took my Council to court, long before 2004, as they said I was not a single household. I won that time but once this act went through the definition was clearer, or at least for what matters and their powers.
However whatever the full reasons you have for bringing this case I would be very interested in hearing about it. The mere word of 'household' sends me in a spin. I went through a whole year of hell over this. Good Luck.

by Puzzler

20:20 PM, 31st December 2020, About 6 months ago

The COVID rules define household quite clearly, those who share accommodation. There is no requirement for them to be related. However, in housing anything that is not an HMO should be one household, meaning that in most areas two sharers are OK but not more. In London Boroughs with strict licensing two would not be permitted. So two friends cannot share but they can if they are in a relationship. Totally illogical.

by Wendy

10:44 AM, 1st January 2021, About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Yvonne Francis at 31/12/2020 - 17:26
Hi Yvonne, Thanks for your comments, but I am the leaseholder (and absentee private landlord) of my flat which I wanted to let to 3 unrelated tenants (for the second time since buying my 3 bed flat in 2003). It is my landlord (above me) that is now interpreting 'household' as restricted by the one in the Housing Act 2004 (our lease was written in 1989). The word 'household' when written in our lease could not have meant 'household' as defined 16 years later! In any case the Housing Act 2004 controls/supervises HMOs for licensing purposes, it does not alter the general meaning and understanding of the word 'household' as used in the everyday English language. This is what I am trying to establish, by bringing this case. I hope it stimulates the debate 'nationally' so we have clarity because, as you say, when should a landlord 'question' the sexual orientation and 'intimacy' between people to regulate occupancy of flats? This whole question is ripe for allegations of discrimination, as should 'intimately related people' have priority to rent flats over those who do not have intimate relations?

by Yvonne Francis

12:40 PM, 1st January 2021, About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Wendy at 01/01/2021 - 10:44
I'm afraid I don't know much about leaseholds as I have always owned properties Freehold.

My point however, is, whatever your landlord above you says it would make no difference to the fact that you as a landlord would have to abide by the 2004 Housing Act, so in affect this decision would not make any difference to you. Three unrelated tenants is definitely a HMO in my area. What is the case in yours? My Council bought it down to this about 8-9 years ago, but its all an extension to the 2004 Housing Act. This level is now practised by lots if not all Council's.

I have been a landlord for over forty years so I have experienced all this first hand. It was about 1993 I took the Council to court and managed to not get classed as a HMO, claiming to be a single household. However the definition was very similar to what it is today. The post by Bill bought back many memories!
In my case I got away with it as I offered joint leases, and they were students who do live together as a family to more or less a degree. However the 2004 Housing Act put paid to all this by specifying 'unrelated persons' .

My opinion of 'household' is that it means different things to different situations. For instance with Covid it means anyone living together in a house. My students count as one household for this purpose, but not with my Council's Environmental Health Department, and hence I have to Licence and abide by all the regulations.

by Wendy

13:14 PM, 1st January 2021, About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Yvonne Francis at 01/01/2021 - 12:40
Hi Yvonne, I understand I have to abide by Housing Act 2004 HMO rules and its definition of household for the purposes of issue/no argument there at all BUT it actually does make all the difference for the purposes of the lease and who is the 'permitted user' of my apartment. This is the absolutely critical point and does make all the difference for leaseholders. My landlord is stating that the 'permitted user' of my flat can only be a single family and not unrelated sharers, be it two or three or more people. This massively restricts who can occupy my flat as per my lease, not as per the Housing Act 2004. If my lease allows a 'household' of 3 unrelated sharers to be the 'permitted users' under the lease, then it is for me to ensure they are licensed correctly under the Housing Act...Household in both 'legal' documents does not mean the same thing with the same result. This is what we must bring to the attention of the Court for determination, we are not seeking to alter 'household' under the Housing Act, we are wanting unrelated sharers to be recognised as a household and therefore permitted users of our flats (which is a block over 160 flats and is therefore very important to establish). What governs permitted users for tenants living in our flats also applies to leaseholder owners, we are not just talking about important!

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