License to Occupy Issues

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    License to Occupy Issues

    So here is my issue. Myself and my girlfriend currently rent a room in a house through a letting agency where I share the house with 5 other people (all strangers before I moved in) an we each have our own contracts. 1 of the 6 rooms has two tenants that again have separate contracts but share the same room, however all the other rooms are not shared. Each door has a lock on it, and each tenant given the keys to their room only.

    Each tenant signed a license to occupy with a minimum stay of 6 weeks written into the contract and no maximum. In the contract it says they can choose to terminate the contract whenever they feel by giving two weeks notice. It also says that they retain a set of keys and that the agreement is not to confer exclusive posession upon the licensee.

    The issue is that the agency kept "their" set of each bedrooms door key in a pad locked closet. During a water heater malfunction, the agency was forced to give out the code to the room closet where these keys were - giving the tenants of the house full access to any room they chose. This all happened before we moved in and we were never told of this.

    Two weeks after we moved in, we were both out for a bit, locked our door and came back to find that a laptop and camera had been stolen from the room, yet no break and enter - i.e. a tenant had done it as the door was locked once again when we arrived home.

    The question I have is whether I can take the agency to small claims court for giving out this code and giving access to our room to every tenant resulting in the theft? Also if I start to go to smal claims, can they just kick me out with two weeks notice?

    I have been told by some that since we have individual locks that I may not actually be in a license to occupy but in an assured shorthold tenancy which would mean I am entitled to not be eivcted for at least 6 months.

    Please someone help as this is such a gray zone when dealing with "exclusivity"

    Many thanks.

    #2
    Originally posted by drewmon88 View Post
    I have been told by some that since we have individual locks that I may not actually be in a license to occupy but in an assured shorthold tenancy which would mean I am entitled to not be eivcted for at least 6 months.
    I suspect this may indeed be an AST, but that does not mean you can not be evicted in the first 6 months. So long as you keep to the tenancy agreement, you're fine, but if you are evicted for any of the grounds in section 8 of the 1988 Housing Act then the 6 month rule does not apply. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/schedule/2

    It may pay you to have a word with the HMO officer at your local council as it seems obvious to me that your security has been put at risk, and security is an important element of the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (see section 12) http://www.communities.gov.uk/docume...pdf/150940.pdf

    Other members may comment on the license / AST issue (I'm sure it's an AST) but you may also want to talk to the Tenancy Relations Officer at your local council (he's in the housing department) who may be able to shed some 'official' light on the subject.

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      #3
      Thanks for the help. Sorry I should hav clarified I meant they can't evict me unless I do something wrong and not just evict me because I'm taking them to court. I will definitely be going to the local council for some advice. If anyone else has an opinion please feel free to let me know.

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        #4
        The fact that your room has a lock does not stop it being a licence; because a bed and breakfast business (which operates under a licence to occupy) also usually has a lock on a guests door. If somebody else holds a key and can access it then it may not be exclusive occupation.

        Typically, a licence agreement requires some kind of service to be provided in addition to room rental. For example the room is cleaned regularly for the occupier. Or you may be sharing a room with a someone else who has their own agreement with the landlord.

        I agree with Snorkz that your situation sounds like it is more likely to be an AST, but the only sure fire way to tell is to take it to court and let the judge decide. You need to be quite determined if you are put under pressure to leave, if you are subsequently given notice.

        Whether you are a licensee or a AST tenant, the minimum notice they should give you by law is 4 weeks. It’s in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

        As a licensee, if your landlord is not sharing facilities with you (ie he does not live in the building), he can only evict you with a court order if you stay after the 4 weeks notice has expired, although you actually have no right to stay as the licence would be terminated.

        I think that the agent has been negligent and should compensate you. I hope you have filed a police report for your loss.
        All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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          #5
          We did file a police report thankfully. The only service that the agency provides (apart from paying the various bills) is a cleaner but they only clean the common areas of the house and do not have keys to the rooms. In addition the agency charges us a fee specifically to have the cleaner come.

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