Residents association seems to have taken against students

by Readers Question

10:51 AM, 28th July 2017
About A year ago

Residents association seems to have taken against students

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Residents association seems to have taken against students

I have a Buy to Let flat which is part of a complex which is currently let to two international students.

However the residents association seems to have taken against students being able to rent these flats and is quoting the below clause in the lease: –

“Not to use the Demised Premises or permit the same to be used for any other purpose whatsoever other than as a self-contained private dwelling for residential purposes only for one family or household in single occupation”

The argument being that students do not constitute a family or household. We are curious to know how two student friends sharing would differ from a professional un-married couple or two employed friends sharing.

Many thanks

Andrew



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:13 AM, 28th July 2017
About A year ago

Hi Andrew,

The residents association are probably thinking you will try to set up some sort of illegal HMO and that it will end up like something out of "The Young Ones"!

Have you been able to speak with them?

David Aneurin

13:38 PM, 28th July 2017
About A year ago

I have looked at this in the past and came to the conclusion that two individuals of any sex could constitute a household if they were partners. However strictly speaking if there is no relationship then they are breaking the lease.
Worse still if you then get three individuals living in the same flat.

Ian Narbeth

14:06 PM, 28th July 2017
About A year ago

In the case of Roberts v Howlett [2002] 1 P&CR 19 a house was let to four students (who were there for a fairly long term residence and lived as a social unit). It was held that this was not in breach of a covenant not to use the property other than as a single private dwelling house. However subsequent to that ss254 and 258 Housing Act weaken the argument though they may not be directly relevant to your lease.
If the students are living as partners then there is no problem. If just as friends then it is arguable they are not a "household in single occupation". That said the disjunctive "or" would normally be interpreted as meaning that family and household are not the same. Do they share meals, watch TV together, do other things that a household does?
On a practical point I would tell the residents' association that as far as you are concerned there is no breach of the lease. I would warn the tenants of the issue and advise them not to answer any questions about their relationship (or lack thereof). The residents may struggle to prove there is a breach in the absence of any evidence. With just two students it may be very hard for the residents to be sure they are not in a relationship and unless the students are disturbing the other residents the latter may not have the stomach for a legal fight.

Yvette Newbury

10:49 AM, 29th July 2017
About A year ago

To be fair it doesn't matter what you may ponder the difference is between 2 people or a family, the fact is the clause is in your lease that you signed and agreed to upon purchasing the property. The headline is therefore misleading, it's not to do with the Residents' Association as they would not have written the lease (unless you have share of freehold in which case they may have had input). It is also not against students as it would also apply to two professionals working who are not related or a couple. This is a common clause in flats and something your conveyancer should have advised you on if you were buying the flat to rent out.


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