With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it may be that buy-to-let property owners have vacant property, with longer term tenants not wanting to sign up to committing to future rental payments. The absence of long term tenants may present landlords with the consideration of letting their properties on a short-term basis. There are various websites that offer property owners the chance to let their properties for a weekend or a few days at a time. However, where the properties are subject to long-term residential leases, then it is extremely important to check the terms of the leases, to ensure that such lets are permitted. Clauses forbidding such lets will not necessarily spell out in obvious terms that short lets are forbidden. Instead, leases may say that the properties are to be used as a private dwelling house, or similar terms may be used.
Triplerose Ltd v Beattie and another  UKUT 180 (LC)
The Upper Tribunal case of Triplerose analysed a restriction in a lease, which required the property to be used as a private dwelling house. The property was advertised on websites to be let for short-term occupation. The case cited a leading practitioner text, which summarised that residential property used for short term occupation by a succession of paying guests has always been treated as a breach of a covenant requiring use only as a private residence or dwellinghouse. The Upper Tribunal found that the lease had been breached by using the property for short term lets and weekend use.
Interestingly, the Tribunal did confirm that where a clause contains a restriction preventing the property owner from carrying out a trade or business “upon the property”, then no such breach of this part of the restriction would be found for:
- The provision of laundry services between lettings,
- leaving breakfast goods for visitors,
- and handling check-in and check-out (which was not said to happen at the flat).
If short term lets of leasehold properties are being contemplated, then it is important to consider the terms of the leases carefully, to ensure that there are no potential breaches. Breaches of terms of leases can cause issues with superior landlords, mortgage providers and insurers of the building. This can place the ownership of the property at risk. It is extremely important to ensure the relevant terms are adhered to and any deviation from the terms should be approved by all relevant parties.