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Tenant running a business from rental flat

(9 Posts)
Confusedlandlord14 Wed 19-Mar-14 23:19:03

Hello

I've name changed as I'm worried I'd be identifiable, but I am a mumsnet regular.

We rent out a flat to a tenant through a letting agency so have no direct contact with the tenant. The tenant has mentioned in an email about an unrelated matter to the letting agent about how busy they had been 'setting up a business'. This rang an alarm bell with me and I googled.

The tenant has set up a small mail order business. The website does not list a registered address so I don't know if it is registered or if I can find this out any way.

Basically my questions are - can the tenant register a business to a rental address and are there any legal implications of this? Does it invalidate our insurance for example?

The tenant has an assured short hold tenancy if this makes a difference....

Any help or advice much appreciated!

MoreBeta Wed 19-Mar-14 23:32:21

No generally you cant register a business at a rental flat. In my tenancies (I was the tenant) it was usually specifically excluded.

I did have a business with a registered business address at an accountants office but the business activities I did do from the rented flat but it was only office work.

If the tenant has employees working at the flat and piles of parcels and boxes coming and going that is a nuisance and definitely not allowed.

I think if your ten

LyndaCartersBigPants Thu 20-Mar-14 00:07:53

I'd have thought that if the business is just holding stock at that address and the tenant has adequate insurance it wouldn't be an issue.

I run a business from home (not rented) and all the planning dept, insurance co. etc are interested in is whether customers visit, will the business cause disturbance to neighbours with parking etc and whether I need the stock to be insured (my home insurance allows me to hold stock, but doesn't cover it's value).

FrogbyAnotherName Thu 20-Mar-14 08:20:45

If your tenant is a sole trader, then there is no 'business' to register - they just change their employment status with HMRC.
Does the tenancy agreement mention 'trading' from the address?

specialsubject Thu 20-Mar-14 10:45:21

there are businesses and businesses - for instance, I do internet work from home but my insurers are quite happy about that, even though the main terms say 'no professional use'.

most tenancy agreements do exclude business use. But (speaking as a landlord) if the business is not a nuisance to neighbours or a risk to the property (and it sounds like it isn't) why not have a chat with the tenant, discuss with your insurers and see if it is ok to continue ?If there is an extra premium for you then perhaps the tenant could pay that.

if they are a good tenant you'll want to keep them.

Confusdlandlord14 Thu 20-Mar-14 11:08:11

Thanks all. I've checked our tenancy agreement and it says quite clearly

- not to register a business to the address
- not to run a business solely from the address

I can't seem to find a business registered address (checked companies house etc) so not sure if this is being run under the radar anyway so to speak. The Facebook page and website for the business is full of pictures of products in our flat! So it looks very much like it is being run from there.

The tenant is ok but has been demanding and difficult since moving in. We been very helpful about reasonable requests but others have been ridiculous - the tenant owned their own house before and due to relationship breakdown has had to move. There have been long emails about decor (not the state of it but critiquing the colour scheme and curtains and how it's not what they are 'used to' etc!) plus complaints about the layout of the flat (!) and how the tenant would improve it if they owned it. Every email seems to end with 'it's not what I'm used to, I'm used to owning a much bigger house and garden' which is really annoying as the flat was viewed before it was taken on and it's a lovely flat that was our home so we cared a lot about it - it's not a standard rental flat!

The freeholders who live downstairs have also found the tenant to be annoying and rude to them and whilst are easy going, are finding them a bit irritating.

I'm wondering about keeping this in hand and if she starts to really annoy us or we want to give her notice for another reason, mention it to the letting agent.

LyndaCartersBigPants Thu 20-Mar-14 14:12:49

Wouldn't it only be registered with companies house if it were a limited company? There is no record of my business address anywhere as mine is internet only and I don't want customers turning up unannounced!

Are you just annoyed at the cheek of your tenant for using your flat without getting express permission or do you genuinely have cause for concern?

To me, someone getting off their arse and starting a business is an admirable thing, they are working and earning to pay your rent and if it is just parcelling up goods and taking them to the post office or getting parcel force to call once a day, it won't have any detrimental effect on the property or neighbours.

If insurance is an issue, then surely it is only the contents side of to which I presume they pay for? If there is a fire or they are burgled they will lose their stock. As long as it isn't fireworks or hazardous chemicals they are storing, it wouldn't really affect the likelihood of fire and if they don't advertise their business address it won't increase the likelihood of burglary either.

FrogbyAnotherName Thu 20-Mar-14 14:39:15

From what you've written, there's nothing to suggest that your tenant is breaching their agreement.

A business is only 'registered' if it is a limited company, if the tenant is self employed, they don't have to register their business address with anyone.

If they are running a mail order company, they may well have a lock-up unit, so are not running the business solely from the address. Just because they took photos of products there doesn't mean that is where they trade from!

It sounds like there unrealistic expectations all round - your tenant is getting used to living more frugally than she is used to, and you are coming to terms with the fact that your former home is a business asset and something you may have to let go of emotionally.

specialsubject Thu 20-Mar-14 16:17:51

...although complaining about the layout, paintwork and curtains (assuming that they are the same as when the flat was viewed) does indicate a degree of childishness.

it is irritating when you have worked hard to make a place decent (whether you lived in it or not) and then someone whines about it. Ignore.

you can't give notice for being a stroppy person (relationship breakdown, eh?) but this may be signs of future trouble. Put EVERYTHING in writing, respond to the whines with 'the flat is as you viewed it. If anything is broken or not working please let us know so that we can resolve the problem' and keep an eye on things with regular inspections. With suitable notice of course.

might also be worth making it clear to her (if you don't already know this) that your insurance does not cover her contents.

if the items she is selling are a risk to the property, I would certainly take action.

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