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  • Warren Traynor

When is a licence a lease?

Landlords beware - you might want to save legal costs, and your tenant might want quick occupation. That's all common, but as time passes, documents expire, licence fees become rents, tenancies are created, and statutory rights are born. After all, its hard to demonstrate that an occupier of a self contained suite never had exclusive occupation.

Standing back, to all intents and puposes, could the spirit of the agreement ever have been anything other than a lease? No matter how many times the paper refers to licence, if you have had to ask for permission to visit, and no one else is allowed in, the chances are its a lease. A protected one at that. Worst still the terms are likely to be flimsy, meaning your occupier has statutory protection, and rights to a flimsy document that will run rings around you. You will run out of control.

A vociferous tenant can make your life as a landlord a mightmare, and a very expensive one at that. I have a story to tell about an example of how this unfolded for a retiring client landlord - we battled for years at the great expense of his pension savings - the cost was so disproportionate that I felt compelled in the end to see it through for what turned out to be a samaritan fee. But hey, it was good experience.

Call me if you have concerns - its good to talk. You really should start to discreetly tidy up those irritating loose ends, about which the last recession really left you little choice. The good news is that its about time to ask for a rental increase too! Call me to get your house in order, and performing better.

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