Private block let out to Institutions?

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    Private block let out to Institutions?

    Hi all
    I have owned a lease on a flat in a private block of 32 total for 4 years. Only about 25% of the flats are occupied by owners, me being one of them. The remainder have gradually been bought by as `buy to let` .
    I have found out today that at least one of the leases is in fact now in the name of an institution that provides housing for the `homeless`. (for whatever reason)
    Can anyone advise if this is allowed? Should owners not have been consulted before this lease was transferred? Do we have any rights to know exactly who is living in that flat?
    It has come to light that the Police have made various visits to this flat with no understanding as to the reason.

    #2
    We live in a charming small town in leafy Berkshire. Police visited a neighbour, big Heathrow robbery, banged him up for several years: the talk of the street for a few months, nobody had any idea he was involved in such matters. Then a month or so ago they visited us when I reported a neighbour's house break-in whilst they were on holiday: Oh the shame of it....

    The Police visit for various reasons, why would you expect them tell you or everyone else why ? If they visited, say, you, due to you being the victim of domestic violence or a racist attack would you expect plod to tell everyone?

    Where do you consider appropriate for the homeless to be housed?
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

    Comment


      #3
      It is not possible to advise whether it is allowed without both seeing the contents of the leases and knowing your relationship with the freeholder.

      However, I think it is unusual for a lease to allow the freeholder to veto an assignment, except in the last seven years. It is quite uncommon for them to be able to veto a sub-let. Some of the landlords here might think restrictions on sub-lets to be onerous, although I wouldn't agree.

      Unless you are a member of the company that owns the freehold, you have no right to influence whether they reject an assignment or sub-let, even if the lease allows them to do so.

      My specific experience is that there are less problems with a flat where the housing association is the long leaseholder, than we have where, as it happens, the same housing association is the sub-tenant and is letting to sub-sub-tenants. I'd also say we have had worse direct sub-tenants of BtL landlords than is the case where the housing association is the long leaseholder. All this may be the luck of the draw. Unfortunately our leases do not require permission when sub-letting the whole of a flat. Also, where the housing association is the long leaseholder, the tenant has been there for over a decade.

      The lease might require the freeholder to be told who is living in a flat, but it would almost certainly be a breach of data protection law to pass that information to other residents, even if they are members of the company that owns the freehold (unless they are also directors of the company). My lease doesn't require the freeholder to be told about sub-tenants. You do have a right to know who the long leaseholders are, but there is no duty on anyone to volunteer the information. In all cases, you can pay £3 to the Land Registry, for the title register entry. If all the immediate long leaseholders are members of a company that owns the freehold, or manages the block, you can also ask to view the company register, which will contain the names and (service) addresses of the other members of the company.

      Comment


        #4
        Can anyone advise if this is allowed? - Yes. Why shouldn't it be allowed?
        Should owners not have been consulted before this lease was transferred? - No. Why should they have been?
        Do we have any rights to know exactly who is living in that flat? - No. Do your neighbours have a right to know who is living in yours?

        Did you ask these questions when any of the other flats changed hands?
        Or is this just because these are 'homeless' people.
        (Of course they are not 'homeless', the flat is their home even if only for a short while).

        Comment


          #5
          Being "Homeless" ain't as simple as one might think.....

          http://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/...g_homelessness
          I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for your replies. Clearly there is nothing I can do to stop the whole block becoming a `refuge`.
            Of course no one replying knows the precise concerns held, but it would appear that regardless of concerns nothing can be done.
            Except of course selling the flat to someone who does not care......ie a landlord.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by lampshade View Post
              Thanks for your replies. Clearly there is nothing I can do to stop the whole block becoming a `refuge`.
              Of course no one replying knows the precise concerns held, but it would appear that regardless of concerns nothing can be done.
              Except of course selling the flat to someone who does not care......ie a landlord.
              Because you have not stated the precise concerns (you?) hold.
              Did any owner ask for your background when you bought your Lease?
              The 'Institution' can only sub-let flats for Leases they have acquired.
              If/when you decide to move on, they may make you an offer you cannot refuse.. No skin off you nose when you accept, but you may be condemning the remaining owner-occupiers to the Institution's expansion plans, which seems to be your key concern?
              I think the 'refuge' you fear will require change of use planning permission or be a licensable HMO for the de facto owner.

              Comment


                #8
                are your circumstances any different to someone in a terraced house who lives next door to a property used for similar circumstances? have these people caused you any problems?

                Comment


                  #9
                  In my original reply, I assumed that this is a case where a housing association is letting out under normal AST type arrangements, but to people who would be unacceptable to private sector landlords.

                  If, however, they are running a hostel (short stays), it would be a change of use for planning purposes, to class C2, from the normal class C3. (Similarly a private landlord operating AirBnB all year would need a change to class C1.)

                  I can't imagine a flat being used as a legitimate hostel, as you really need a larger building.

                  As someone mentioned licensable HMOs, flats generally don't fall under the mandatory licensing rules, as they mainly have one floor and rarely more than two, although any HMO could be subject to selective licensing..

                  If not let to a single family, it could be a class C4 HMO, but, in most places, no planning application is needed for C3 to C4. If let to seven or more unrelated people, it would be a sui generis HMO, and need planning permission. However, I think only rogue private landlords would try to fit that many people in a private flat.

                  I'd generally expect housing associations to get HMO and planning rules right.

                  The housing association lets on our estate have been to single families of four or less people.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Good points leasholder64!

                    Is it perhaps a s257 HMO anyway...
                    https://www.tmbc.gov.uk/__data/asset...n-257-HMOs.pdf

                    Housing Associations - and councils - can and do get things wrong also, sometimes to the extent that many might consider them "rogue" landlords (eg Kensington & Chelsea, Grenfell...)
                    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      lampshade

                      So visit the Planning History of that flat, and if a Change of Use was required, and PP is not properly in place and the it is less than x (4? 10?) years ago, then you can ask planning to enforce on them.

                      Though I have seen more success with bad publicity (ie local newspaper) making the institution pull their horns in.
                      Refer Mad Regulators to Arkell vs Pressdram.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Please note, though, that having a social landlord as a intermediate landlord is not a change of use, in itself (and private landlords are more likely to make under the radar changes of use than "institutional" ones).

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Lampshade, I know for a fact that some block insurance companies WILL cancel the insurance if any flats lets to a council or other entities that house the type of people you mention, where maybe they are short stay, or even long stay.

                          You can legally ask to see a copy of the insurance policy, and certificate of insurance, therefore do so, then contact the insurers to ask what conditions they put on the arrangement the flats are engaged in.

                          To your horror, they may come back with "Sorry, we will have to cancel the insurance"

                          See how that goes first.

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