Is a small shared house a "single private dwellinghouse" for covenant purposes?

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  • SteveFLS
    replied
    Belated thank you for your advice, I was thinking of letting to second or final year students who had previously shared Halls or other accommodation together ergo ' pre formed group of friend renting as a single household, perhaps asking that they sign something to evidence this in case I'm challenged? Would appreciate any further advice please ?

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  • jpkeates
    replied
    If you are letting to three or more friends, you're going to be managing an HMO. It's possible that there are planning restrictions in place that would not allow the property to be converted into an HMO (which would be enforced by the same local authority that has the benefit of the covenant).

    Groups of friends (other than students) find it hard to rent properties as a group as a result of the HMO regulations. Normal residential properties generally require some work to make them suitable for multiple occupation and are generally considered harder to manage than a family let.

    Roberts v Howlett predates the 2004 legislation that defines the regulations for HMOs in England, and it could be challenged on that basis alone. It's quite hard to show that any group of tenants is a pre-formed group of friends.

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  • SteveFLS
    replied
    Thanks very much for taking the time to reply James, very helpful.

    Kind Regards

    Steve


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  • JamesHopeful
    replied
    Originally posted by SteveFLS View Post
    Apologies: does anybody have recent experience involving Robers v Howlett please ?

    Thanks Steve
    I'm not sure what you mean by "recent experience". As far as I am aware, it remains the leading case on the issue.

    Just to be clear, if I remember correctly a key part of the judge's rationale in Roberts v Howlett was that the dwelling in question was let to a pre-formed group of friends on a single joint and several AST. If you're letting an HMO by the room, I would suggest it might well be deemed to breach the "single private dwellinghouse" covenant, but I am not aware of this point ever having been tested in court.

    As with many covenants, the chance of any breach ever being enforced is relatively low. It is worth understanding as well who is the beneficiary of the covenant (i.e. who would be entitled to enforce it) to assess the risk that it would be enforced.

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  • Gordon999
    replied
    You should check with your local council on "shared letting" rules which may be different for different parts of the country.l.

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  • SteveFLS
    replied
    Apologies: does anybody have recent experience involving Robers v Howlett please ?

    Thanks Steve

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  • SteveFLS
    replied
    Hello James, I have the same RC on a house that I'm hoping to use for HMO and would be very interested to learn how things worked out for you if you feel ok about sharing the info? I'm on NO PHONE NUMBERS and would appreciate a conversation please ? Many Thanks Steve

    {Moderator - do not attempt to privately contact people on these forums}

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  • JamesHopeful
    replied
    I think I've found my answer: in Roberts v Howlett [2002] 1 P&CR 19 letting a house to a pre-formed group of four students was held not to be a breach of an identical covenant. This still appears to be the leading case on this question. If I've missed something, however, I'd be keen to hear it.

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  • JamesHopeful
    replied
    (PS I just realised this is more a conveyancing question than a planning question -- any mods around should feel free to move the thread)

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  • Is a small shared house a "single private dwellinghouse" for covenant purposes?

    I am thinking of buying a house (in England) which I would let as a small shared house to a pre-formed groups friends on a single joint and several AST.

    It is an ex-council house and is subject to the standard restrictive covenant "...not to use the property otherwise than for the purpose of a single private dwellinghouse..." which gets slapped on to all council properties upon their sale via right to buy.

    My understanding from a quick Google is that this would prevent me from letting the property to groups of strangers on a room-by-room basis, but letting to a small group of friends on a single joint and several AST does fall within the definition of a "single private dwellinghouse" in the context of a restrictive covenant (and other contexts in which the term "single private dwellinghouse" might appear, for example in relation to C3/C4 planning use class or the Housing Act 2004, are not necessarily relevant to the interpretation of this covenant). Am I correct?

    (In case it makes any difference, it has been let by the previous owner as a small shared house for at least 10 years without any enforcement taking place, and the council is aware of this as it has issued both an HMO licence under an additional licensing scheme and a Certificate of Existing Lawful Use or Development showing it has C4 use class status).

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