Outcry over landlords banning working from home

Outcry over landlords banning working from home

0:03 AM, 10th July 2024, About 3 days ago 12

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Generation Rent and Shelter are slamming landlords for “draconian rules” that ban tenants from working from home (WFH).

An investigation by The Independent reveals a trend in SpareRoom adverts specifying that a tenant must not work from home.

Ben Beadle has hit back, pointing out that landlords can’t simply hand over the keys and ignore their responsibilities for what tenants do in their rented properties.

£1300 and no WFH

A tweet went viral claiming a landlord wanted to rent a double room for £1,300/month but said tenants couldn’t work from home, even though there’s a desk in the room.

The post questioned: “£1300 and no working from home, even with a desk?”

Many on Twitter expressed outrage at the post, with one person criticising anti-WFH rules as “utterly ridiculous,” while another commented, “They can’t tell you how much time you can spend in your own home. The audacity of these people.”

None of your landlord’s business what you do

Ben Twomey chief executive, of Generation Rent told the Independent that landlords are being selfish by not allowing tenants to WFH.

He said: “If you’re paying rent for a home, it should be none of your landlord’s business what you do in it.

“Unfortunately, in practice, there is little stopping landlords from imposing draconian conditions on their tenants, because they can threaten a Section 21 eviction if you don’t comply.

“It doesn’t matter if an unreasonable requirement is lawful – being able to evict without needing a reason trumps everything.

“When the next government reforms tenancies, as all major parties have promised, it must abolish Section 21 and make clear that unfair terms like banning working from home are not legal. That way, the selfish preferences of a landlord will not mean homelessness for a tenant.”

Landlords are free to dictate unfair and unreasonable terms

Shelter’s legal team told the Metro newspaper that it’s perfectly legal for a landlord to either ban a tenant from working from home or charge more for access to shared facilities.

Shetler legal team told the Metro: “We might consider the restriction to be unreasonable or unfair, but the landlord will no doubt argue that they have their reasons for imposing this condition, and that it is reflected in the rent, so it is unlikely to be considered an unfair term under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, adds landlords are being unreasonable when it comes to WFH.

She told the Metro: “We haven’t built enough genuinely affordable social homes for decades and renters are paying the price – private renting has ballooned but regulation hasn’t kept pace, stacking the deck against renters.

“As a result, landlords are free to dictate unfair and unreasonable terms, knowing tenants will just have to put up and shut up in the hope of keeping a roof over their heads.”

My business to intervene

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, says the £1,300 room advert in question is a lodger advert where the rules are different.

He said on X, formerly Twitter: “Firstly, this is a lodger advert with a live in owner. Section 21 is not relevant to a non AST. Lodgers have far fewer protections and if you’re sharing your home, you might forgive someone for imposing conditions. Akin to a flat share where someone is being added to a tenancy and other renters making sure that whoever joins them is a good fit.”

He adds Generation Rent needs to understand that the responsibilities of being a landlord extend beyond simply collecting rent.

He said: “The issue I have with this is the comment from Generation Rent: “If you’re paying rent for a home, it should be none of your landlord’s business what you do in it.”

“I’d love to be able to hand over the keys and abdicate my responsibility for what a tenant does there. The reality is, I can’t.

“Licensing conditions require me to deal with ASB; neighbours implore me to manage the tenancy when things are to their liking (gardening, rubbish, low level noise).

“And frankly, if a tenant turns my house into a knocking shop or a drugs den it is 100% my business to intervene.”


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Cider Drinker

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9:00 AM, 10th July 2024, About 3 days ago

Shelter (who don’t provide shelter to anyone) think it’s unfair but concede that it probably isn’t unfair in the eyes of the law. So, they admit that they are wrong. Hallelujah.
Some mortgage providers and some insurance providers don’t allow it. What is the landlord to do?

Simon Williams

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9:52 AM, 10th July 2024, About 3 days ago

I suspect this is just a deliberate false flag exercise by Shelter etc to whip up anti landlord sentiment in front of a new government. Good comments from Beadle (I thought) pointing out it was a lodger situation. Personally, I have no issues with homeworking in any of my shared properties as long as it's not to such an extent that other tenants are negatively impacted.

paul robinson

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9:55 AM, 10th July 2024, About 3 days ago

Gen rent & shelter need to get a grip!

SpareRoom usually house shares, so either issues with extra utility costs if tenants pay or if included in the rent - sure WFH is often not practical in a house share….plus from experience the amount of extra condensation produced when I tenant doesn’t open their windows can cause major issues!

Jw Bryan

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10:09 AM, 10th July 2024, About 3 days ago

If a Landlord is letting a flat, there is usually a provision in their Lease prohibiting carrying out any, 'business, trade, art or calling' within the demise which may cover WFH.

Reluctant Landlord

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10:23 AM, 10th July 2024, About 3 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Jw Bryan at 10/07/2024 - 10:09
so is the answer to pay a higher premium for a policy that allows T to WFH and then pass on the higher cost via a rent increase? I presume so...

Next thing Shelter and GR going on about 'unfair' rent increases!

Paul Essex

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11:18 AM, 10th July 2024, About 3 days ago

Just one working from home in a shared house will dramatically increase heating bills , and possibly energy bills if they use equipment at peak times. This is blatantly unfair on other tenants. So I can see this being a problem and if course we cannot change extra for this due to government interference.

NewYorkie

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12:59 PM, 10th July 2024, About 3 days ago

As usual, shelter and GR picking a single example to vilify the entire PRS. Except, the example used is totally irrelevant. Lodgers do not rent an entire property, and as such, where they live is not 'their home' it's their room in someone else's home.

I can imagine why someone would not want their lodger in their home all day, using their gas and electric, while they are out at work. I remember we had 2 lodgers 60 years ago. They knew they had to be out of our house by 08.00 and had to use the public baths on a regular basis. They paid their rent on time and never complained. But... WFH was never a thing until recently.

Heather C

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13:58 PM, 10th July 2024, About 2 days ago

I used to manage blocks of flats in a past job and several of those had it written into the lease that there was to be no working from home, so if the landlord couldn't do it even if they occupied the flat themselves, the tenant can't either.

DPT

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15:46 PM, 10th July 2024, About 2 days ago

I do think that banning WFH with AST lets is not on though. There should be no impact on the landlords insurance and if they charge an inclusive rent, they could just raise it a little to cover extra utility costs.

Michael Booth

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15:49 PM, 10th July 2024, About 2 days ago

What's the problem generation rent and alike, councils and housing associations have band this practice for has long has l can remember that's decades,. Plus insurance companies don't cover for this.

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