Definition of ‘single household’?

Definition of ‘single household’?

9:07 AM, 20th June 2017, About 6 years ago 35

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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



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15:20 PM, 1st January 2021, About 2 years ago

I also had that clause in a property which I have since sold. Three bedrooms and three sharers were not permitted under the lease.

Mark Shine

20:41 PM, 2nd January 2021, About 2 years ago

With regards to ‘additional’ HMO licensing, the council officials I’ve spoken to were very clear on what they choose to define as separate households (ie 2 unrelated tenants are 2 households etc regardless of whether they had been living cohesively for many years).

However re the leasehold issue Wendy: I’ve had a landlord (company who purchased the freehold interest in a 60 or so unit block a few years ago) who then tried to challenge as the original (mid 20th century) leases technically stated only the lessee ie flat owner themselves and/or their family can occupy flats. I paid a lawyer for advice at the time. He sent the freeholder a letter stating that due to Estoppel (a word I was unaware of at the time, but he basically meant as the flats had been rented for years unchallenged) the freeholder had no grounds to challenge now.

Never heard anything more from the landlord/ freehold co re that matter since.

Yvonne Francis

14:13 PM, 3rd January 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Shine at 02/01/2021 - 20:41
I would like to question your statement that two unrelated tenants form a HMO. I have a link from my own Council.

Alan Bromley in his post of 31st December dealt with the problem in line with this link. It's confusing because they say an individual can be a household, and then they say two households form a HMO. However they go on to clarify under 'exemptions' and as the link says, even three can be allowed without becoming a HMO, if its a couple sharing with a family member, but not with a friend.

Your point about Estoppel is interesting, but the case you mentioned if I read you correctly, did not go to Court, and its case studies Courts rely on.

I appreciate Wendy's replies to me. I presume all the flats in her block are under the same leasehold?, and perhaps the terms are there for her own, and the other residents. I wonder what other residents think? I once owned a shop premises which had a covenant with huge amounts of restrictions. A solicitor told me I had to contact every one who could benefit by this covenant, and get their consent to any alterations, and if I missed just one I would be in trouble. I know members who use this site have argued with me but this was what was said at the time (1976)

If I lived in a block of flats as a single household with my family, I must say I would not like 'unrelated' tenants to occupy a flat close to me based on a general principal of damaging probabilities. The problem these days is that people are more mobile, and property owners for one reason or another are wanting to become landlords, and renting in a way to get higher rents, such as these tenancies return.


15:59 PM, 3rd January 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Yvonne Francis at 03/01/2021 - 14:13
Mark didn't say that two unrelated people form an HMO. He said they form two households. There is an exemption for two people sharing under HMO legislation so they wouldn't form an HMO.

Mark Shine

16:33 PM, 3rd January 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by David at 03/01/2021 - 15:59
Thanks David. Yes that’s right, I didn’t say 2 households form an HMO. But apologies Yvonne, my wording was perhaps a little misleading.

Re the Estoppel, yes you are correct in my case it didn’t go to court / FtT, but the letter the lawyer sent to the freeholder’s solictors did make reference to previous case law (Downie v Turner 1951).

Yvonne Francis

16:58 PM, 3rd January 2021, About 2 years ago

Yes David was right, sorry Mark, but I've probably got HMO's on the brain, and there is a confusion on two households?

Mark Shine

21:22 PM, 3rd January 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Yvonne Francis at 03/01/2021 - 16:58
No probs Yvonne. Like yourself, over recent years I’ve also had no choice but to have the term "additional HMO” on the brain a bit, thanks to licensing. I wonder if Covid had not happened, more and more councils across the UK would have already tried to roll out their very own additional HMO licensing schemes.

BTW I only mentioned the estoppel thing, on the off chance it might help Wendy’s case. That said, as she is already dealing with the FtT, the counsel representing her will have already considered that angle no doubt..

Like others, I would also be v interested to see if her case helps clarify what ‘household’ should very obviously mean in 2021. Council licensing depts may not be so happy to hear a sensible/ logical /modern definition though?

T Krishna

1:57 AM, 29th April 2021, About 2 years ago

I'm a leaseholder going through the same situation with the property management company telling me that I can't have a lodger because i'd break a clause stipulating "That no part of the Property shall be used for any purpose other than as or incidental to a private dwelling in the occupation of one household only."

I don't have a legal background but this has become a mini-project for me (i'll eventually get a solicitor I suppose).
Based on the research i've done, the reference to 'private dwelling' is satisficed by me being able to chose who the lodger is at my sole discretion and the property becoming their primary residence (i've read some tribunal cases where people have let out on air bnb and this part of the covenant is deemed to have been breached given that anyone could effectively have access to the property and hence it would not be private).

Wendy - Like with your situation, my lease doesn't define the term 'household' but the management company are misinterpreting it in line with the definition used for a HMO (I completely agree with what you've said previously). I've found a precedent case for the definition of 'household' (see points 14 and 18 via the link below).

When you get an update on your case, can you please let me know ?


17:43 PM, 9th May 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by T Krishna at 29/04/2021 - 01:57Hi, Re: Household. I've just spent two years litigating about the definition of 'household' in our lease (being different to the word 'family''). We always maintained three unrelated sharers (certainly on one Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement) are able to be one household where there is a good sized communal area and other shared communal facilities, kitchens/bathrooms where any can share a meal together should they wish. The Management Company and us agreed an out of Court Settlement at Mediation stage where this point was accepted by the Management Company at last and therefore did not need to be tested at Court. Government definitions (away from the Housing Act) were accepted therefore. We did not test if three unrelated sharers on three individual tenancy agreements would also be accepted as one household with the same circumstances in other respects. This case was settled on 6th April 2021. Our great solicitor, now well versed in the arguments, is Johnathan Arman of Glanvilles Solcitors in Chichester.

Mark Shine

21:45 PM, 9th May 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Wendy at 09/05/2021 - 17:43
Hi Wendy

Good to hear you got a result!

You mention out of court settlement, but was there any ruling or otherwise etc that could be used by others as ‘case law’? Councils are still trying to maintain that even if tenants on a single AST and live cohesively and eat not just 1 but 3 meals a day together in a separate lounge or dining room, they’re still separate households (if they’re not technically related) afaik..

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