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A night to remember?

23 May 2017

How do you find accommodation when you are travelling to a new town for a few nights? Do you look for a reliable hotel chain or a homely bed and breakfast, or do you check the internet to see what apartments might be available on a short-term basis through a booking site?

The increase in the numbers looking for accommodation for one or two nights has made these sites very popular. It has also offered a chance to those who own properties, that might suit the business traveller or family seeking a city break, to make a tidy sum.

It almost seems too good to be true for all concerned, but the owners of apartments and flats in houses or complexes need to take care; they may unwittingly be contravening their leases in any one of a number of ways. And if the other residents don’t like the idea of sharing a staircase with a group on a stag or hen weekend, then they may be able to insist that the landlord or management company does something about it.

Not only will most residential leases include a covenant not to cause or permit to be caused a nuisance or annoyance to other residents, but they may also include several other covenants that may be less obvious but even easier to breach.

Many will include an agreement only to use the property as a residence, and this will not normally be satisfied by letting it out for a couple of nights at a time to people who would never consider that they were “residing” there. Some will go further and will limit the residence to that of a single family, so preventing the lads who are occupying the beds, sofas and floor space from fulfilling that requirement.

Then there is the “alienation” clause that means that a landlord must be asked to consent to any subletting of the property. The lease may allow assured shorthold tenancies of a minimum period, usually six months, but may prohibit anything shorter.

If the landlord decides to do something there may well be a clause that allows him (or them if the property is owner-managed by a residents’ company) to recover all of the costs they incur in instructing lawyers or agents to take action. In extreme cases the landlord can even serve a notice, which is the first step in seeking to forfeit the lease.As one owner recently found out to her cost, what seemed like a nice earner can end up being a nasty and expensive surprise. Where a tenant is thinking about embarking on this type of venture, they would do well to take some advice on what their lease actually says before doing so.

Nick is a practitioner with over 30 years’ experience. A senior partner, he specialises in commercial contract disputes and has particular expertise in contentious landlord and tenant work. Legal directory Chambers says Nick is: “‘highly knowledgeable’ and does a ‘very good job of handling clients,’ according to interviewees”. Nick is also ranked in the Legal 500 for his work in commercial disputes as well as property litigation.

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Nick Cox LLB (Hons)
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