Outcry over landlords banning working from home

Outcry over landlords banning working from home

0:03 AM, 10th July 2024, About A week ago 14

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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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DPT

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17:16 PM, 10th July 2024, About A week ago

There's a big difference between setting up and running a business from home, which they may be justified in banning and working from home with a lap top and a mobile phone a few days a week. No Councils or HAs could or would ban that.

havens havens

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17:29 PM, 10th July 2024, About A week ago

I’ve been following the debate about landlords banning tenants from working from home, and it’s really heating up. On one side, organizations like Generation Rent and Shelter are slamming these “draconian rules.” They argue that if tenants are paying for a home, landlords shouldn’t have a say in how they use it. The whole thing came to light after a viral tweet showed an ad for a £1,300/month room that had a desk but didn’t allow working from home. Understandably, people are outraged.

Generation Rent’s Ben Twomey pointed out that landlords can impose unreasonable terms because they have the power to threaten eviction without cause, thanks to Section 21. They’re calling for this to be reformed to protect tenants from unfair conditions.

Shelter added that while these rules might seem unreasonable, they’re not technically illegal, and landlords justify them as part of the rent. Polly Neate from Shelter highlighted that the lack of affordable housing has led to this situation where landlords have too much power over tenants.

On the flip side, Ben Beadle from the NRLA said the controversial £1,300 room was actually a lodger situation, which operates under different rules. He argued that landlords do need to retain some control over their properties to manage anti-social behavior and other issues. He said he wishes he could just hand over the keys and walk away, but licensing conditions and neighborhood responsibilities mean that landlords have to stay involved.

Honestly, I think both sides have valid points. Tenants should have the freedom to use their rented space as they see fit, especially in this era of remote work. But landlords also need to ensure their properties are well-managed and comply with regulations. There needs to be clearer guidelines and possibly legal reforms. Maybe something that allows tenants more freedom while giving landlords a framework to manage legitimate concerns like property misuse and neighborhood disturbances. A balanced approach could protect both parties' interests better.

Sally Robinson

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8:49 AM, 13th July 2024, About 7 days ago

My first concern would be the property insurance, then I would not allow any manufacturing or preparation of food as a business to be done in the residence. Noise, humidity, smells, nuisance - none are acceptable in a quiet residential area. If my insurance added costs to my policy because of working from home on laptops, phones, computers etc. then the tenant would have to pay the increase.

DPT

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12:30 PM, 13th July 2024, About 7 days ago

I can think of half a dozen things that I would ban, such as:
- seeing clients in the property
- storing goods at the property
- using the property address in advertisements for a business
- using the property for any business that requires a licence or adaptations
- operating a business that generates excess noise or nuisance
- using the provided furniture or equipment for a business.
However, there are plenty of other types of working from home that would be entirely acceptable.

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