Legal problems with freeholder uk

Ciao everybody

We live in Bath, Uk, a very popular destination in England.
We have being using Airbnb to rent our 2 sparerooms for the last two years. Everything was good, we are superhosts, until a an unknown neighbor reported us to our freeholders.
In England there is an archaic system, if you live in a block of flats, the freeholders own the land and the owners of the Flat lease it from the freeholders for a certain number of years, and have to agree to some rules, our is that the premises have to be a single private residence.

We never rented the entire property or caused any nuisance. The freeholders first said it was ok as long as we live in but on the insistence of the neighbor they are now saying we can’t do it anymore, threatening to bring charges for breach of the lease.

Is there anyone with similar problems or you could give us advice?

Oh Lordy; a spill of bad memories about a leasehold flat I had in London years ago, and I’m not sure I’m going to be much help I’m afraid. There was no Airbnb in those days but I let my spare rooms out to lodgers for six months at a time. Unfortunately the Freeholder’s daughter lived above us and would host late night parties during the week, whilst we needed to sleep for work next day. After several pretty unpleasant confrontations (she was a very nasty person indeed…), we went through our Lease with a tooth comb, and found a clause about noise disturbance or some such. We tried mediation with her and her parent Freeholders, but to no avail; she was a precious daughter who could do no wrong.

Lots of neighbours are interfering, intemperate people who live through messing with other people’s lives. Do you know what their exact complaint is? Has the Freeholder told you exactly what it is they are complaining about?

Hello from the city down the road. When you bought the flat your solicitor would have obtained a deed which will outline any covenants on the freehold. If you read it you will see any restrictions on tenants or paying guests. Often the former is disallowed. I am not sure the freeholder is allowed to make up rules as they go along.
There’s a move in the UK for more flat owners to own a share of the freehold, and pending legislation I believe.

Hi @Mari

Its not just in England this happens, it’s fairly common place in many European countries, the US and further afield.

As you know there is a legal right for leaseholders to buy out the freeholder in these situations in England. Something to consider and then you can be on the Board of Directors and help set terms.

Why do you think the neighbour is raising concerns? This could be your starting point to allay their concerns.

We bought a shared freehold with other leaseholders, of another flat with more temperate neighbours! We were lucky that one neighbour was a legal exec, and who did all the legwork with The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (I think…), including attending the Tribunal hearings. The original freeholder tried to stiff us on the value but we eventually got the whole for £6K.

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Ciao Thanks for your message.

We wish we knew what the neighbor is complaining about and who he is, but they won’t tell us. If we knew We could talk to him.

Some of the complaints are that there is an oriental woman, she is our friend, and that somebody came back one night at 4 am, it was my husband. This neighbor is taken down dates and times of people entering and leaving. It almost amounts to harassment The only explanation we can think of is envy.

Unfortunately it seems that we cannot buy the freehold or a share of it, but we’ll pursue it.

I’m in the UK (Warwick) and I had a similar problem. Pursuing a legal route I think will lead to entrenchment. In my case I knew the problem lady. Her shall we say Daily Mail inspired thinking was to stop “strangers” appearing in our shared courtyard. She set a petition posted through all the neighbours doors drumming up support to stop us running our Airbnb. My reaction (after I calmed down) was to canvas my neighbours with a special offer for their friends when they stayed over. I have since had three of my neighbours rent at this special rate. I also made an educational campaign when ever I saw neighbours whom I new had lodgers pointing out the similarities of my Airbnb to their lodging “guests”. Finally in every conversation I had with my neighbours I made a point of showing how similar my Airbnb guests to Warwick residents in every way. The combination of approaches has seen off the neighbour, in fact she even said hello to me the other day. So in short my advise would be to try to build bridges not trenches. The Daily Mail has a lot to answer for me thinks! Best of Luck :slight_smile: Paul


Thanks Paul for the advice,

I agree totally with you, bridges are better than trenches. We did ask the neighbors but nobody admitted.

What do you think if a post a note asking to come to talk to us and apologising about not informing them before. We can the offer something in return, like a contribution or a room for their friends. Worth trying.

Bath is such a beautiful place, I used to visit a friend their regularly as a break from London. But I also remember English property laws. I “owned” a flat in Little Venice in a block of 4 as 25% of the owners corporation. We then leased them to ourselves for 100 years for a peppercorn rent. It was all great until things went pear shaped with the neighbours over who paid for what repairs and then it was lawyers at 20 paces. When I sold I had to get sign off from the other owners for renovations I had undertaken 4 years earlier. The bad ones had left by then but it was still expensive to get everyone onside.

Sorry I can’t help but it is a friggin’ nightmare English property laws. And don’t get me started about selling “chains”.

Thanks for sharing your English property problems with us. At least we are not the only ones suffering from this antiquated feudal system.

In Australia we have a system called “strata title” so you buy and sell your own flat but you are still subject to strata laws wich are limited by laws which are set by the state government. Many stratas are trying to ban STRs and it’s been left to the govt to determine whether they can or not. Pretty much like everywhere in the world its a total palaver.

Why can’t you buy the freehold. It is your legal right to do so, I think a certain percentage, maybe 70% or leaseholders need to agree.

Don’t ask your fellow leaseholders to come and talk to you. You are the one who needs help go and see them.

If it was just one incident of a early morning arrival and seeing an ‘oriental’ woman I am really surprised the freehold company responded by banning you from doing Airbnb. I would definitely talk to them again about this.

Thanks for the message.

Good question. Why don’t we buy our share of the freehold? Unfortunately we only have 40%, the rest belong to the freeholder/management company, they rent the other free flats, and won’t sell us our share.

We were quoted these incidents, but we still don’t know who reported us and why.

Was it envy?

I have a friend who calls the Daily Mail, The Daily Hatred. Just about sums it up.