Q&As

Accommodation in a private sector purpose-built student accommodation block is let on the basis that students rent their individual rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens for a fixed term of a year at a rent. Student’s have keys for their own rooms but may be subject to the occasional room inspection. Would such lettings be classed as licences or leases?

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Produced in partnership with Desmond Kilcoyne
Published on LexisPSL on 23/09/2020

The following Property Q&A produced in partnership with Desmond Kilcoyne provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Accommodation in a private sector purpose-built student accommodation block is let on the basis that students rent their individual rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens for a fixed term of a year at a rent. Student’s have keys for their own rooms but may be subject to the occasional room inspection. Would such lettings be classed as licences or leases?

Accommodation in a private sector purpose-built student accommodation block is let on the basis that students rent their individual rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens for a fixed term of a year at a rent. Student’s have keys for their own rooms but may be subject to the occasional room inspection. Would such lettings be classed as licences or leases?

Cases which distinguish leases from licences are very fact sensitive. However, the usual starting point is the issue of ‘exclusive possession’. This is the legal right to exclude all others from the land. It is the hallmark of a tenancy, and, by contrast, a licensee does not have this right.

Where the arrangement between the parties is contained in a written agreement, the focus will be on the true construction of the agreement; albeit properly construed in the light of the surrounding factual matrix. Do the terms give rise to the grant of exclusive possession? More particularly, if the terms of an agreement grant: (i) exclusive possession; (ii) for a term; and, (iii) at a rent, to someone then, in the absence of a lodging arrangement or special circumstances, it will amount to a tenancy: Street v Mountford.

Alternatively, where there is nothing in writing, the question whether exclusive possession has been granted is probably answered by consideration of all the circumstances, including asking:

  1. what were the

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