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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My brother has bought a flat near my parents home. The purpose

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My brother has bought a flat near my parents home. The purpose was for me to live there as much as possible in order to support my elderly parents, probably on a daily basis. I spend some time abroad as I have a swedish partner even older than my parents. I will be able to spend longer periods of time looking after my parents as the flat will make it possible for my partner to stay in it with me. He will want to spend time in Sweden (in our house there) to see his family and I would expect to join him there also from time to time. Where I stay and for how long, entirely depends on my parents' and partner's health needs in the future.

I will pay no rent, and my brother wants to pay all the utilities, council tax etc. He wants me to agree to vacate on a week's notice, and he wants to ensure that I have no tenancy rights. He has sent an email of his terms that he wants me to agree to. I do not want to argue with him but am unwilling to sign something if it is a legal document as there are a number of the terms that are impracticable and I would have to challenge them. I am happy to sign if it is not! How would he enforce it - e.g. if I did not leave in a week, or did something else he didn't like? I agree that I am not a tenant so it is not a tenancy agreement.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

What terms to do not agree with and how much notice would you prefer to give and be given?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

copy of his email

When you use the flat you will be using it as our personal guest, not as a tenant or with any personal entitlement. You may invite Anders to stay at the flat with you while you are there, and the same conditions in this email apply to him as well.

2) While we will let you have a key for your convenience, this does not indicate the granting to you of any right, or any obligation by us, and we reserve the right to ask for the return of the key at any time.

3) Should we decide to sell or rent out the flat at any time, we will give you a week’s notice so that you can vacate the property before we start the process. Upon giving you the week’s notice, we expect that you will vacate within the week.

4) As it is our flat, we will pay the ground rent, relevant council tax and other utility bills. We will also liaise with the Management Company and deal with any issues arising.

5) While you are staying at the flat you will be responsible for your own food and other provisions.

6) I will be maintaining a calendar so that I know who is using the flat, and when it is free, so you will need to let me know when you would like to visit and for how long, and I will be able to let you know if that is ok.


Can you just confirm that you are happy to abide by the above?



When we entered into this arrangement it was clear that I would, in effect, be living in the flat. I expected to pay all utility bills. I expect my partner and I to have personal possessions such as art, music, clothes, kitchen items, decorations, books etc. My brother and his wife were not interested in visiting themselves. This has now changed but I can live with them coming occasionally but not dictating whether I can be there or not as it is entirely dependant on my partner, my parents and my needs where and when we stay. My aim is to be in the flat for as lengthy periods as possible as my parents needs are great.

I expected to have friends to stay as I will be tied to the area and all my friends live elsewhere. I also expected to invite relations to stay with the aim that they can visit my parents at the same time. I had no idea of my brother controlling a calendar of movements! None of this is necessary in my view.

I have thought about this and would rather prepare a statement declaring that I accept that I have no tenancy rights at all, and that any expenditure by me on the flat or its contents or the payment of any bills relating to the flat will not create any tenancy rights. Similarly any use of the flat by me personally or by my invitation to my relations or friends will not be taken as a right of occupancy. I am willing to recognise my brother and wife's prior claim to time at the flat and undertake to ensure that they can use it whenever they wish, within reason.

I consider a month's notice would be more realistic given that I would have to move a 87 yr old partner and all our stuff to sweden by myself!

I am unclear under what legal process such an email as my brother's would be enforceable. Contract law in a county court? If its a load of nonsence, I am happy to agree to it on the basis that it has no standing. If I start negotiating about its twerms I may be setting myself up for an actual contract?

Your brother has really thought this through so you need to be careful because whilst he could not ask you to leave within a week, you might be able to extend it for a maximum of four weeks.
However if he simply locks you out you are then faced with court application which is not particularly practical.
The maximum that you could hope for (if you were paying rent) will be four weeks but if you are not paying rent, he could actually exclude you without notice!
If you agree to this, it will be legally enforceable however it doesn’t need to be because as I said earlier, he can simply lock a guest out provided he gives you your things back.
It would appear that you have two options. Either you agree to what he is saying or you don’t agree and you don’t do it.
Of course, you can negotiate all you like but if he is adamant, you are stuck with what he proposes.
You say that “when we entered into this agreement” however I am under the impression that you are the only entered into discussions and there is not actually an agreement yet. Please correct me if I am wrong.
At this stage you do not have some watchers a legal problem but a negotiation/agreement problem.
It would seem that what you are looking for is one month notice rather than one week notice. I would not disagree with you but one week notice is unreasonable because it gives you little time to arrange to move somewhere else.
What I suggest you do is have a license agreement on one months notice with only other terms that you were agreed between you.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How would an email agreement between us be enforced by my brother? What legal arena/process would he have to use?

It doesn't matter whether it's a written agreement, a verbal agreement or an agreement done by text or email. If it is enforceable at all when it is enforced through the County Court.
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