Q: We have recently become aware that one of our leaseholders has decided to make his flat available to people seeking overnight accommodation. We have received a number of complaints from other leaseholders and are concerned in regard to the security and safety of residents, and as to how such activities might affect our insurance arrangements. We will of course be writing to our insurers in this regard. We are sure we are not alone with the problem.
FPRA Hon Consultant Yashmin Mistry replies:
There has been a recent change in the law relating to subletting in London. However, while planning permission for short term lets is no longer required, the terms of the individual leases still need to be adhered to.
Before 26 May 2015, a lessee in London wishing to sublet their flat for 90 consecutive nights or fewer needed planning permission from their local council. Our experience of dealing with Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and City of Westminster often showed planning permission was unlikely to be granted.
Good news then that the law has changed. However, whist this means more flexibility (and potentially more rental income) for landlords, it increases the risks of anti-social behaviour, damage to common parts, a high turnover of tenants and complaints to on-site staff and property managers.
Crucially, while planning permission for short term lets is no longer required, the terms of the individual leases still need to be adhered to. Therefore, if a lease restricts subletting in some way, the lease will need to be adhered to. The lease is therefore key to what enforcement action the landlord can take going forward.
The freeholder is indeed the landlord. I sometimes refer to them interchangeably.
I must, however, advise that I think the expenses of complying with section 21 LTA 1985 are within the scope of the service charge, even if you would prefer that this were not the case (in order