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Fitness for Human Habitation – New Rights for Tenants

The Government is committed to improving standards for tenants in the private and social rented sectors. It is therefore supporting a Private Members’ Bill tabled by Karen Buck, a Labour MP: the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill. (visit the Parliament website here to track the Bill’s progress.)

New Duty for Landlords and Remedies for Tenants

The Bill obliges landlords to keep rental properties in good condition by implying into a tenancy agreement a covenant by the landlord to ensure that the property is fit for human habitation at the beginning, and for the duration of the tenancy.

If a landlord fails to keep a property in good condition, the tenant will have the right to sue the landlord for breach of contract on the ground that the property is unfit for human habitation.

What are Landlords’ Current Obligations?

Landlords already have a statutory duty to keep their properties fit for human habitation. Relevant factors include damp, ventilation, lighting, and facilities for food preparation. This duty is enforced by local authorities using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). An offence is committed if a landlord fails to comply with an enforcement notice.

However, there is currently no means for a tenant to take direct enforcement action against a landlord. They are reliant on the local authority doing so on their behalf.

How will Tenants Benefit from the New Law?

If the Bill is enacted (which is expected to happen) tenants will be able to take their landlord to court. The court may order the landlord to take action to make the property fit for human habitation and/or to pay compensation to the tenant.

How does this Affect You?

Are you a residential landlord, tenant, or agent? Do you welcome this legislation or are you worried about vexatious claims? As ever, we are keen to know your views.

HMO Reforms Update

Last month we wrote about the Government’s proposed HMO reforms. An Order has now been made extending the scope of mandatory licensing by removing the “three or more storeys” requirement. Landlords have until 1 October 2018 to apply for a licence for properties not previously subject to mandatory licensing. There will be no grace period after 1 October.

We await news on the introduction of minimum room sizes standards.

The Residential Landlords Association believes many of the HMO reforms are unnecessary and says they will put a huge strain on local authorities. Despite their raising these concerns with the Government, the Government has pressed ahead with the changes. What do you think? How are landlords, local authorities, and mortgage providers responding to the new HMO licensing rules? Please share your experiences with us by leaving a comment.

Technical Issues in Charity Law | Part One

The Law Commission published a Report on 14 September 2017 on various technical issues in charity law, focussing on areas where there is inappropriate regulation of charities and any unnecessary legal complexity and inconsistency. It aims to remove or adjust the legal and regulatory burden on charities, whilst still safeguarding the public interest in ensuring that charities are properly run. (It does not also address high profile issues such as the law of public benefit, the charitable status of independent schools, or fundraising practices.)

The Report proposes a number of important changes to charity law. The draft Bill appended to the Report, when enacted, will bring those changes into effect. We have reviewed the Report and set out below a summary of those of its recommendations likely to be of interest to small and medium sized charities. For details of those recommendations, please see the Report (or a summary of it) on the Law Commission’s website.

Making it Easier to Make Ex Gratia Payments

The Report considers ex gratia payments out of charity funds. As we explain in our Guidance Note, Ex Gratia Payments by a Charity, an “ex gratia” payment is one which the trustees of a charity feel morally obliged to make, but which they have no legal power to make. For example, it might be clear from the circumstances that a testator intended to include in his Will a legacy to a family member but did not live long enough to amend his Will. In such a case, the charity’s legal entitlement to the residue under the Will would be greater than intended, and the trustees might therefore wish to pay such a legacy on a voluntary basis. The Guidance Note also details various other circumstances in which trustees might wish to make an ex gratia payment. (“Payment” for present purposes, includes a transfer, waiver or release of any property or rights.)

Charity trustees can currently ask the Charity Commission to authorise an ex gratia payment but if it is a small ex gratia payment, the costs of obtaining authorisation and the resulting delay before making the payment may be disproportionate to its value. The Report proposes amending the law to give trustees the power to make ex gratia payments that are small relative to the income of the charity without their having to obtain Charity Commission authorisation. Any payment is deemed “small” for this purpose under the Bill if it is no more than a certain amount and its gross income in its last financial year is no more than a certain amount, as follows:

  • ● £1,000, where gross income is up to £25,000;
  • ● £2,500, where gross income is more than £25,000 and up to £250,000;
  • ● £10,000, where gross income is more than £250,000 and up to £1 million; and
  • ● £20,000, where gross income is more than £1 million.

Trustees currently must personally take any particular decision to make an ex gratia payment, and they must only make a payment if they personally “regard themselves as being under a moral obligation” to do so; a subjective test. The Report proposes an objective test instead, namely that an ex gratia payment may be made if trustees “could reasonably be regarded as being under a moral obligation” to make the payment.

The Report proposes that, to ensure efficiency in charity administration, trustees should in future have power to delegate any decision to make an ex gratia payment wherever they wish to do so. With that power, they could then decide to make all such decisions personally or delegate any or all such decisions. Where any officer of the charity (e.g. the chief executive or a legacy officer) is delegated to make any such decision, the officer could then decide on behalf of the trustees if the objective test has been met. Where the test is met in any case, the trustees will have power (but not a duty) to make a payment.

For further guidance about ex gratia payments, see our Guidance Note, Ex Gratia Payments by a Charity.

Fundraising Appeals

Our Guidance Note, Fundraising Appeals By Charities – Suitable Wording for Appeals explains the current legal position where too much, or too little, money is raised by a charity in response to a fundraising appeal.

At present, where too much is raised, the Charity Commission can direct that the surplus is applied cy-près (“Cy-près” means “as near as possible”.); when too little is raised, the funds cannot usually be applied cy-près and the trustees must try to contact donors to offer a refund.

For small donations, the cost of contacting donors will often be disproportionate to the value of the donations. Where too little is raised, there needs to be a balance between protecting donors’ wishes and the administrative inconvenience and expense of contacting donors. The Report recommends reduction of that expense by amending current law such that the law does not require trustees to offer a refund of any donation of £120 or less in a year, and such that such donations can be applied cy-près. Trustees would only then have to try to contact a donor if he requested that when making the donation.

When funds raised are to be applied cy-près (because too much or too little has been raised by the appeal), trustees can currently ask the Charity Commission to make a scheme authorising the funds to be used for other similar purposes. In the case of small amounts, the charity’s and the Commission’s associated costs may be disproportionate to the amount in question. The Report therefore recommends amending the law so that, if a fund does not exceed £1,000, the trustees may apply it to new purposes without Charity Commission consent, provided that they first consider the desirability of securing that the fund is used for similar purposes.

Changing Purposes, Amending Governing Documents

The Report notes the importance of the ability to make changes to a charity’s governing document quickly and efficiently, whilst retaining safeguards so that any such changes are in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries. It concludes that greater alignment of the procedures currently available to corporate and unincorporated charities when altering their governing documents would be beneficial to create legal simplicity and consistency. It consequently recommends new powers for unincorporated charities to be able to make changes to their governing documents so that those powers are brought into line with those of charitable companies and CIOs. The Report also recommends that the same requirements for Charity Commission consent should apply to all charities, whatever their legal form, when they alter their purposes.

Your Experience

Will any of these proposed reforms be relevant to your charity? Do you think they will be beneficial for your charity or for other charities? As ever, we would like to hear from you.

HMO Reforms Expected in 2018

The Government has indicated that new rules relating to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) will be brought into force in October 2018. The key reform is the extension of mandatory licensing of HMOs. There are also new provisions regarding minimum room sizes.

What is a HMO?

In simple terms, a house or flat is a HMO if it is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households and the tenants share some or all of the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities. There are an estimated 500,000 HMOs in England.

If your rental property is a HMO you will need to comply with legislation relating to the management of HMOs. Depending on the size of your HMO you may also need a licence to operate your HMO.

Mandatory and Additional Licensing – The Current Rules

Currently mandatory licensing applies to “large” HMOs, meaning those that comprise three or more storeys and are occupied by five or more people. Licences to operate HMOs are obtained from the local housing authority.

Additional licensing applies if the local housing authority has designated an area as subject to additional licensing of HMOs. This means that a licence is required for the types of HMO specified in the designation, not just those fitting the description of a large HMO. Additional licensing may be introduced to address problems caused by ineffective management of HMOs in the particular area.

There are serious consequences for landlords and letting agents who do not obtain licences for licensable properties. These include unlimited fines for criminal offences, civil penalties of up to £30,000, rent repayment orders and, from April 2018, the possibility of banning orders.

Why Extend the Scope of Mandatory Licensing?

The Government has decided that smaller HMOs need to be brought within the mandatory licensing scheme. This is because HMOs are particularly attractive to so-called rogue landlords who exploit vulnerable tenants by charging high rents but failing to manage their properties properly. Overcrowding, health and safety issues and a failure to deal with anti-social behaviour are common problems.

What Will Be the New Scope of Mandatory Licensing?

The storey requirement will be removed, meaning that all HMOs with five or more occupiers living in two or more households will require a licence.

Mandatory licensing will also apply to purpose-built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied by five or more people in two or more households. Each flat, if occupied as a HMO, will require a separate licence.

The new rules will affect around 160,000 houses.

How Will the Licensing Changes be Implemented?

The extension of mandatory licensing is expected to be implemented in two phases. Phase one will last for six months. During this period, landlords who are new to the mandatory licensing regime should apply for a licence. However, they will not be prosecuted if they fail to do so. (But they will be unable to serve a valid Section 21 Notice seeking possession if they have not applied for a licence.) During phase two, landlords can be prosecuted and have rent repayment orders made against them if they have not applied for a licence.

Conversion from Additional or Selective Licensing to Mandatory Licensing

If your HMO is currently subject to additional licensing, your licence will be passported into the mandatory licensing scheme at no cost and with no alterations to the licence conditions for the remaining period of the licence. The Government has indicated that similar conversion arrangements will be made for properties currently affected by a selective licensing scheme (a scheme which requires all private rented properties, including HMOs, in a designated area to be licensed).

National Minimum Room Sizes

Currently there are no mandatory HMO conditions or prescribed standards relating to room size. This is set to change. It will be mandatory for a HMO licence to specify which rooms in a HMO are suitable for sleeping accommodation, and by how many adults and children.

  • A room for a single adult or child aged 10 or over must have at least 6.51sqm of usable floor space.
  • A room for two adults or children aged 10 or over must have at least 10.22sqm of usable floor space.
  • A room with a usable floor area between 4.64sqm and 6.5sqm may be occupied as sleeping accommodation by a child under the age of ten.

These are minimum standards and local authorities may impose higher standards. It will also be for local authorities to make rules about room sizes for rooms occupied by more than two people.

How do These Reforms Affect You?

Are you a landlord or tenant affected by the proposed HMO reforms? Do you agree that they provide a much-needed tightening up of regulation in this area, or are residential landlords being excessively regulated? Do you have any concerns about the implementation of the new HMO licensing regime? Please share your thoughts with us.

What Will Brexit Mean for SMEs?

Brexit Notes

A new study led by Dr Ross Brown and Professor John Wilson at the Centre for Responsible Banking and Finance at the University of St Andrews suggests that, through a reduction in capital investment, less access to external finance, reduced growth, lower levels of product development, and reduced business internationalisation, SMEs could be set to suffer more than larger businesses under Brexit.

In particular, the study’s authors suggest that reduced investment will hamper SME growth, in essence, preventing many small, innovative startups from getting off the ground. Indeed, it is such businesses that expressed the greatest concerns when approached by the researchers.

Will the Impact Be the Same for Everyone?

Amidst the uncertainty, it is interesting to note that not all types of SMEs had the same level of concern. Dr Ross Brown, one of the lead researchers of the study, observed that: “The results of our analysis suggest that Brexit-related concerns could result in a range of negative consequences for UK SMEs, especially the impact on reduced capital investment, which critically weakens and undermines their ability to grow and prosper”. The research also notes, however, that such concerns are not shared by all in the SME community, suggesting that high-tech, service-oriented, and export-oriented businesses are likely to experience a more significant negative impact.

As well as the differentiation between sectors, the study also suggests that SMEs based in Scotland and Northern Ireland take a dimmer view on Brexit than their English and Welsh counterparts (a view which, it is also noted, mirrors voting patterns in the 2016 referendum to an extent).

More information, as well as the full paper, is available here.

What Does Brexit Mean to You?

For better or for worse, Brexit appears to be continuing apace. Much speculative talk of a second referendum has appeared in Brexit news of late; but, at least for the moment, support for the idea appears to be flexible at best. What is also clear is that impacts are already being felt in the business world due to rising uncertainty over what shape Brexit and related economic and legal arrangements will finally take.

As ever, then, we want to hear from you about your experiences. How has your business changed since the referendum result? Have you encountered any negative effects attributable to Brexit in your business and do you have plans in place to counter those effects? On the other hand, perhaps your business has improved as a result of Brexit and is looking forward to further improvements in the future. Again, we are eager to learn more about your experiences!

Banning Orders for Residential Landlords and Agents from April 2018

Back in April we wrote about the introduction of new measures to tackle “rogue landlords”. Rent repayment orders and financial penalties have already been introduced. From April 2018, the government intends to bring in banning orders for landlords and agents who have been convicted of certain “banning order offences”.

What are the Banning Order Offences?

Draft Regulations have set out the list of banning order offences. If a landlord or agent is convicted of one of these offences, the local authority will be able to apply for a banning order against that person. The list of offences, including Housing Act offences and other serious crimes, can be found here.

What Effect will a Banning Order Have?

A banning order will prevent a person from letting or managing a property or carrying out agency work for a period of at least 12 months.

Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents

There will also be a new database of rogue landlords and agents. The database will include the names of people against whom a banning order has been made. It may also include people who have been convicted of a banning order offence but who are not the subject of a banning order.

Access to the database will be for the government and local housing authorities only. It does not appear that the public will be able to access it.

What Should I Do?

If you are a responsible law-abiding landlord, you don’t need to worry about banning orders. Banning orders are designed for landlords who deliberately and persistently fail to comply with their legal obligations. Their introduction gives local authorities one more tool to use in the fight against rogue operators.

A Tough Gig?

Time to deliveroo some über-important rights to gig economy workers?

Many of us have been there. You whip out your smartphone to book a taxi to take you home and, on the way, you order up a tasty takeaway to be sped to your house in a large box strapped the back of a student riding a bicycle. It’s convenient to be sure, but many (not least our drivers and box-backed riders) can’t help but notice that many legal protections bestowed upon employees are conspicuous only by their absence.

The gig economy has grown considerably in recent years and it can be highly beneficial, not only for businesses, but also for workers who value the flexibility inherent in the business model. Such benefits notwithstanding, however, the House of Commons Work & Pensions, and Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Committees recently called on the government to close loopholes in employment law that currently allow gig economy businesses to force workers to be self-employed, denying them key entitlements such as holiday and sick pay.

This follows on from the Taylor Review, commissioned by the government in October 2016 and lead by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of the Arts. The Review’s report (available here) was published in July 2017 and, at the time of writing, is yet to receive a full response from the government.

Shifting the Burden

There have been a number of court cases concerning the status of gig economy workers, including some which the persistently-embattled Uber has lost, but the default position for such workers remains mostly unchanged.

The Committees argue that “the current situation puts an unacceptable burden on workers to address poor practice through an expensive and risky court case while the companies themselves operate with relative impunity.” Under the new proposals, gig economy workers would benefit from a new presumption of worker by default, shifting the burden onto the companies who would have to either provide basic standards, rights, and benefits to their workers or prove that their workers’ true status reflected self-employment. Furthermore, the proposals include tough new penalties designed to outweigh any gains that companies might stand to make from unlawful practices.

Wage Premiums

The Committees’ proposals also include measures to compensate workers for the uncertainty inherent in gig economy work in the form of a wage premium for hours where work cannot be guaranteed. Not only would this help to balance out a situation in which the flexibility benefits can become quite one-sided, but it may also encourage companies to provide more clearly-defined hours or staff rotas.

A Good Gig?

Pleasing everyone may be difficult, of course. While it would be difficult to argue against improving the rights and protections afforded to gig economy workers, a trade-off that may stand to reduce the flexibility in the system may not be so welcome. Gig economy businesses, of course, maintain that everyone working for them loves the flexibility, and they most likely do, however the lack of protections and rights must surely be addressed in some manner that allows the flexibility in working hours to be preserved.

Do you work in the gig economy? Does your business take on staff on a self-employed basis like this? If so, how would you respond to a change in the law that required you to provide increased rights and benefits to workers while retaining the flexibility inherent in the gig economy of today? As ever, we value your input on the subject!

Processing and Transferring Personal Data

If you process personal data, that processing is currently subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. As of next May, the EU General Data Protection Regulation – the GDPR – will take over. Continuing the changes, the new Data Protection Bill introduced recently will bring much of the GDPR, with a few minor differences, into UK law post-Brexit.

Changes in the Law

Much media attention has been devoted recently to the GDPR. Some of this has provoked questions about the future legal position on data transfer not only within the UK but also to other countries outside the EU or EEA. The good news is that, in our view, what you will need to do in the future will not really change in practical terms.

To Where are You Transferring Personal Data?

You might need to transfer personal data within or outside the UK, to a location within the EU or EEA, or to a non-EU/EEA country (a “third country”). In addition to general requirements for processing personal data, particular requirements apply to transfer of data within the UK or abroad as outlined below.

Transferring Personal Data Within the UK or EEA

Where a UK data controller has a data processor within the UK or the EEA processing personal data for it, currently the law requires a written contract obliging the data processor to act on instructions from the data controller and to comply with obligations equivalent to those in the Data Protection Act’s Seventh Data Protection Principle. The GDPR also requires the contract to detail the processing and the data processor’s obligations. Our template document Data Processing Agreement – Personal Data Security (UK/EEA) meets the current requirements for such a contract.

There are no officially recognised standard clauses for such a contract. There may be in future, but there are none on the horizon, so you may continue to use our template. If the position changes, we will, in addition to making any necessary changes to our template, advise you accordingly.

Transferring Personal Data Outside the EEA

The Act’s Eighth Data Protection Principle and the EU Directive 95/46/EC (often referred to as the “Data Protection Directive”) only allow data controllers to transfer personal data outside the EU if the destination country has an adequate level of protection for the rights of the data subjects concerned. A number of alternative methods of ensuring such protection exist, as follows, but we believe that the “model terms” option (see below) is the best and easiest solution. This is because in practice another method may not be available or it may be relatively difficult to use it. The alternatives are as follows:

1) Recognised Destination

The EU Commission website lists those countries which it recognises as satisfying the test of “adequate level of protection”. The current Act and the GDPR provide for such recognition as a means of satisfying the test for an adequate level of protection. Transfer of data from the UK to the USA is complicated. The USA is not listed as “recognised” but a transfer will be permitted if the USA recipient (“data importer”) has self-certified compliance with the Privacy Shield framework.

2) Adequate Level of Protection

If the destination country is not “recognised”, then the requirements of the Act’s Eighth Data Protection Principle may be met if the data controller concludes that there is an adequate level of protection for the person who is the subject of the data, having regard in particular to the “adequacy criteria” set out in the Act.

It may not always be easy to properly apply these adequacy criteria. Further, the self-assessment basis of ensuring an adequate level of protection will be different and reduced under the GDPR. All in all, we think it will be very difficult for you to make proper use of this method.

3) An Exemption

Schedule 4 of the current Act provides several exemptions from the application of the Eighth Data Protection Principle. Similar exemptions will apply under the GDPR. If one of them applies, you would not need to consider whether there is an “adequate level of protection” or to take any other special steps in relation to the transfer.

4) Agreement on “Model Terms”

In view of the uncertainties and difficulties of ensuring an “adequate level of protection”, it will often be easier and preferable to make use of the following means instead.

The relevant EU Directive provides that an adequate level of protection will be achieved if a data controller and data processor sign an agreement governing transfer of data on model terms issued by the EU Commission for such purposes. The Commission issued the model terms in 2010. The current Act gives effect to this means of compliance and the Information Commissioner authorised the EU Commission model terms. This creates a “safe harbour” for UK data controllers transferring personal data outside the EU or EEA. Our template document Data Processing Export Agreement – Personal Data Security (Non-EU) contains the model terms and it may be used where transferring personal data outside the EU or EEA.

Although the GDPR supersedes the EU Directive, it does not alter the model terms regime so our template can be used after the GDPR and, subsequently, the new Act come into effect. It appears unlikely that the model terms will be amended in the foreseeable future. If they are, we will amend our template to take account of those changes.

Your Experience

Do you transfer personal data to another organisation to process it in the UK/EEA or outside the EU or EEA? If so, we would like to hear about how you ensured compliance with the current Act and the Directive, and how you plan to ensure compliance with the GDPR and the new Act. If you transferred data outside the EU or EEA, then, in order to do so, have you made use of the “model terms”? Have you relied on some other option instead? Are you confident that you are complying with all legal requirements relating to data transfer?


Ban on Letting Agents’ Fees – Update

A draft Tenants Fees Bill has now been published. As expected, the Bill bans landlords and letting agents from requiring tenants to make any payments as a condition of their tenancy, with certain exceptions.

The Bill applies to assured shorthold tenancies and licences but not to other types of letting such as company lets.

Permitted Payments

The payments that can still be required from tenants are:

  • · Rent
  • · A refundable security deposit not exceeding six weeks’ rent (the original proposal was one month’s rent)
  • · A refundable holding deposit not exceeding one week’s rent
  • · Fees for management services carried out as a result of a tenant’s default (such as repairs arising from deliberate damage to the property or a breach of the tenant’s obligations)


Enforcement of the ban will be carried out by local authority trading standards officers. They can impose penalties of up to £5,000. A repeated breach is a criminal offence but a civil penalty of up to £30,000 can be imposed as an alternative to prosecution.

There is also a mechanism for Tenants to recover unlawfully charged fees.


The Bill is still in draft and has yet to be laid before parliament. The new rules are not likely to come into force before late 2018. However, lettings agents need to start thinking about how they will adapt their practices to comply with the new rules.

Short-Term “Airbnb-style” Lettings

Are you considering entering the short-term lettings market? It can be a fantastic source of income for property owners but there are downsides and risks. Here we look at the pros and cons and highlight some issues property owners need to consider before taking the plunge.

The Growth of the Short-Term Lettings Market

In recent years there has been a huge increase in the use of websites such as Airbnb, where home owners can advertise a room or a whole property as available for a short-term let. Originally, these websites were intended for consumer-to-consumer use – part of the “sharing economy” – but they are increasingly being used by property investors who see that there
is potentially more profit to be made from short-term lets than assured shorthold tenancies.

What are the Benefits of Short-Term Lettings?

There is a rapidly expanding market for short-term lettings, with many visitors preferring the independence of self-catering accommodation to a hotel stay. Agent websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and others make it easy for landlords to access this market.

Short-term lets are generally more lucrative for landlords than longer term lets, generating up to three times the income. In a prime area, granting short-term lets can be a reliable source of income.

What are the Downsides of Short-Term Lettings?

With a rapid turnover of guests, there is inevitably more work for landlords to do in terms of management and maintenance of the property. Landlords will either need to set aside the time to undertake this work themselves or appoint an agent to do it for them.

Using a property for short term lets can throw up issues with guests, neighbours, superior landlords and the local authority. Landlords need to anticipate the issues that may arise and be ready to deal with them if and when they do. For example, guests may complain about the facilities, neighbours may be unhappy with the behaviour of the guests, landlords may consider short-term lettings to be in breach of the lease covenants, and the local authority may receive complaints about noise or health and safety issues and take enforcement action.

The growth of the short-term let market in a particular area can have adverse consequences for local residents. Problems can include noise and disruption caused by guests, an increase in property prices, and a reduction in housing stock as investors look to acquire accommodation.

What do You Need to Consider Before Granting Short-Term Lets?

Here are some keys issues landlords need to consider before entering the short-term lettings market:

Planning Restrictions

In London, where living accommodation is much-needed, there are restrictions on using residential accommodation for short-term lets. Short-term lets are permitted provided they do not exceed 90 aggregate nights in any one calendar year. (Airbnb now restricts London hosts from letting their properties for more than 90 nights per year; other platforms do not impose this restriction.) If you intend to exceed the 90 night limit, consider applying for a change of planning use from residential (C3) to hotel use (C1).

Local authorities find this rule difficult to enforce as they do not necessarily know how properties are being used. It is possible that a notification requirement will be introduced whereby owners must notify the local authority of the dates when the property is being used for short-term lets.

Lease Terms

If you are a leaseholder, as opposed to owning the freehold of your property, does your lease allow you to grant short-term lets? Such lettings may fall foul of various restrictions in the lease such as:

  • · a requirement to use the property only as a private residence (the courts
    have held that short-term lettings are too transient to qualify as “private
    residence” use)
  • · a prohibition on using the property for a trade or business
  • · a prohibition on causing a nuisance (could be an issue in terms of the
    behaviour of guests)
  • · restrictions on subletting

If the short-term let use constitutes a breach of your lease your landlord may seek to forfeit (i.e. cancel) the lease or seek an injunction preventing you from using the property in this way. You may incur significant legal costs if your landlord takes such steps.

Mortgage Terms

Your mortgage terms may not allow you to use the property for short-term lettings. A breach of your mortgage terms may result in the property being repossessed unless you can repay the entire mortgage.

Buildings Insurance

Normal residential buildings insurance is unlikely to cover this sort of use. Check your policy and if necessary obtain specialist insurance.


An energy performance certificate (EPC) is needed for a property rented out as a holiday let for a combined total of four months or more in any 12-month period. If this applies to you make sure you have a valid EPC to avoid the local authority taking enforcement action.


There may be valuable items in your property and you will be allowing strangers to have access to it. How will keys be collected and returned? Who will check that the property is secure and your possessions intact?

Health & Safety

Ensure appropriate checks are made on gas and electrical installations and as regards fire safety.


Tax is a specialist area and beyond the scope of this note. Ask your accountant to advise on your tax position.

The Future of Short-Term Lets

Despite the pitfalls and obstacles mentioned above, the short-term letting market looks set to remain strong. Are you already involved in it? Are you tempted to give it a try? Have you been affected by the growth of short-term lettings in your area? As always, we welcome your comments below.