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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 11426
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Me and my girlfriend just moved into a new rented flat. She

Customer Question

Me and my girlfriend just moved into a new rented flat. She is a counceling therapist who sees part of her clients on a freelance basis from home (6 on Monday, 1 on Tuesday, 6 on Wednesday, 4 on Thursday and 1 on Friday) and the rest she sees in an office in the City, where she also does all her admin paperwork etc.
We were told by our letting agents that showed us the property that it should be fine to see some clients during week in part time mode, assuming the flat isn't registered as a business address etc.
However, yesterday, the neighbours from one of the flats in the building (there are 3 flats), which we met for the first time, bumped into one of the clients in the building hallway and is claiming that we can't have clients coming to the building and flat at it's a residential property. They say it's illegal and that they are also concerned about security of letting clients in (even though we told them that anyone that comes we are the ones that open the door and see them out and under our responsability) and they will file a complaint. They were very agressive and rude and so we are worried they will try to make our life difficult and potentially harass clients coming in the building as they approached one of them already yesterday.
As far as we understand it, we are using the flat mostly for residential purposes , talk therapy in our flat won't incur in additional wear and tear of the flat, any clients coming will come during week between 8am and 8.30pm, there is no nuisance to neighbours in terms of noise, etc and it terms of footfall we are talking about a few people a day maximum.
I would like to confirm that It's OK to see the clients at our flat as per description above and what we can do in anticipation of the neighbours doing a formal complaint about this.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 months ago.

Good afternoon. I will try to assist you with your question but need more info - also i apologise if delayed in replying

does the tenancy agreement say anything about running a business?

who owns the property?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The property is owned by a couple who has moved to live abroad and is being managed by the property agency Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward who are our contacts and are aware of this.There is a clause that says:Use of the Premises
14.1. To use the Premises for the purpose of a private residence only in the occupation of the Tenant.
14.2. Not to run a business from the Premises.
14.3. Not to register a company at the Premises.
14.4. Not to use the Premises for any illegal purpose.
14.5. Not to hold or permit any sale by auction at the Premises.And I found this article online about it: https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2016/07/can-a-tenant-run-a-business-from-a-rental-property/
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 months ago.

The problem here is that you are “using the flat mostly for residential purposes”.

If there is condition in the lease (not your tenancy agreement but the lease with your landlord has) that this should not be used as anything other than for residential purposes and/or that you’re not allowed to run a business from it, then your landlord is in breach of his lease by allowing you to do it.

It was irresponsible of the agent to tell you that you could do this if that term is in the lease.

I can tell you that it’s more common that these restrictions are in a lease, than not.

In respect of it being illegal, it’s only illegal insofar as it’s a breach of the terms of the lease which could end up with the owner of the property in court unless he stops happening what is happening.

Notwithstanding any of the above and whether this is allowed or not, neither the other tenants or the freeholder are allowed to harass you or your visitors because that in itself is a breach of their own lease not to cause nuisance.

The fact that you may only be talking to people and not having more wear and tear is not relevant.

Google is a very dangerous thing.

The article that you sent is incomplete because it makes no mention of the terms of the lease of your landlord and that is central.

I’m sorry but based upon the lease, you simply cannot do what you are doing. Sorry.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please take a moment to look at the top right hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen. It’s important you use the rating service because that gives me credit. It doesn’t just give me a pat on the head! Opinion, (Although there is an incentive scheme where the more five-star ratings I get, I do actually get a pat on the head! :-)) All you need to do is press Submit. Thank you.

If you still need any point clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.

FES.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Ok, just to clarify. It might be that the lease that my landlord has does not allow it or it might be that it does, but you are saying that most likely it does not allow it. Is that correct?In terms of what's considered as running a business, even if my girlfriend is a freelancer working only some hours from home per week and the address is not registred as a business is irrelevant? Is that still considered as running a business?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 4 months ago.

That’s correct. I think it’s more likely that your landlord’s lease will not allow this but it is the landlord’s lease which is the operative document, not the one that you have.

If she takes money for doing this, then she is running a business whether it’s registered or not.