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Can the freeholders dictate who I let my flat to?

flatsHere is a question to the blog clinic from Joe who is a landlord:

I am a landlord and rent out two flats in a block consisting of 24 apartments.

I have been trying to let both properties for some time but have met all manner of difficulties with the block management company who insist on vetting the prospective tenants themselves as they have standards they need to adhere to. I understand their policy but feel their interference is overkill.

Firstly, they take an eternity to respond with their decision, the last one took two weeks and the applicants withdrew because they were tired of waiting. The application before that, they rejected the applicants because they were two young men fresh out of university and implied they would be troublemakers by saying ‘there will be some objections from other residents’.

Can the block management or freeholder interfere in this way? Surely it is my business who I choose to let my property to and should be trusted to vet them accordingly.

I should add that the vetting of tenants is not mentioned in the lease agreement, I only found out about this when I paid the sub-letting service charge.

Joe, if your lease does not authorise the freeholder to approve your tenants then I do not see how they can have the right to do this.

The terms of what you and your freeholder can do in relation to your flats are set out in the lease.  Often permission is required for a leaseholder to let property to a tenant and this is quite normal.

One reason why a freeholder would want to have the power to refuse consent is that in some circumstances a property can become an HMO (and need licensing) if more than one third of the flats are let to tenants.

However this permission is to whether the landlord can or cannot let.  I have never heard of a freeholder actually monitoring the tenants who the leaseholder rents his property to.

To have this right, there would have to be something authorising it in your lease.  So I suggest you check your lease VERY carefully (and maybe get it looked at by a property solicitor).

If there is no mention in it of their right to do this, then I suggest you write to the freeholders pointing out that they have no right to interfere in this way.

If they are difficult about this you could also mention that you are taking legal advice on whether you have a claim against them for your financial losses due to their earlier interference.

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2 Responses to Can the freeholders dictate who I let my flat to?

  1. Just two thoughts Tessa

    First I have seen this before, only once, and not the Freeholder or their agent, but the self managing committee, or rather its Chairman.

    Second could the freeholder not simply refuse consent to let? I know this should not be unreasonably withheld but that can be a beggar of a thing to prove – that it has been.

  2. I agree with Industry Observer, this sounds like a resident’s group rather than the actual block managers and it is assumed that Joe is not a member, perhaps because it was formed before he bought the property.
    I had a similar problem with a group that ‘managed’ the development containing my flat but they were only there to give advice rather than dictate who could live there.
    If it is the block management company making these decisions without any clear justification (who are you paying the sub-letting fee to?), I would demand to see appropriate documentation which stipulates they must vet tenants, otherwise you are free to do as you please.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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The purpose of this blog is to provide information, comment and discussion. Although Tessa, or guest bloggers, may from time to time, give helpful comments to readers' questions, these can only be based on the information given by the reader in his or her comment, which may not contain all material facts. Any comments or suggestions provided by Tessa or any guest bloggers should not therefore be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified lawyer regarding any actual legal issue or dispute.

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