The risks of holiday season
Continued short-term lettings in breach of a lease
In Ashley Gardens Freeholds Ltd v Landor , the tenant had already been the subject of two Tribunal decisions; in both 2010 and 2014, she was found to have breached a covenant against use of the flat ‘other than a private residential flat in one occupation only’ as she frequently offered the property to paying guests.
The recent case again concerned her offering of the flat via Airbnb and similar websites to paying guests on short-term lets and for parties. Despite a First-tier Tribunal decision upholding breach of covenant, she continued to breach.
The tenant was found to be in breach of covenants that required her not to use the flat for any use other than for one occupancy or for use for a business. The breaches caused disturbance and annoyance to other tenants in the building.
These persistent breaches, with explanations by the tenant held by the court to be ‘blatantly untrue’, led the court to grant an order for forfeiture; this was delayed for 6 months to allow the tenant to sell the flat in the meantime.
Advice and action for landlords
‘Airbnb-style’ lettings continue to cause headaches for landlords and managing agents. The rise in use of these websites seems to be outweighing the awareness amongst tenants of the terms of their leases.
This case reinforces the landlord’s position, in particular where there are continued, persistent breaches that cause disturbance to others in the building, with forfeiture a very real remedy that the courts are not afraid to grant.
Practically, as we enter the busy summer period, landlords and managing agents may wish to remind tenants of their obligations, setting out the position in relation to short-term lettings and taking a firm view on the actions to be taken where it is found that tenants are in breach.
The tenant’s persistent breaches, with her explanations held by the court to be ‘blatantly untrue’, led the court to grant an order for forfeiture.