The country is in another national lockdown, and the Prime Minister has advised that everybody who can work from home, should. But what does this mean for the tenants living (and now working) in your rental property? Chances are, your contract states that tenants aren’t allowed to conduct business in the property, so where does home-working fit in? Here are the answers to some questions you might have about working from home in a rental property.
What does your contract say?
If you’re concerned about the legality of your tenants working from home, the first thing to do is check your rental contract. Typically, it will specify that you have a residential agreement, and therefore a business should not be run out of the property. This is because, if the tenancy is a business tenancy, rather than a residential one, you as the landlord may have different obligations. This clause may specify that no business activity can take place in the property – or that business activity can only take place with your permission.
What are the potential problems?
The potential problems with running a business out of a residential property depend on the kind of business being conducted there. For example, there may be issues with noise, smells or waste from equipment that might be disruptive for the neighbours, or the business might require frequent customer visits or deliveries, which would not only increase traffic to the property, but also raise potential insurance issues if a visiting person has an accident on the property. This is why business/commercial and residence tenancies are usually kept separate, but during the pandemic the lines are beginning to blur.
What about working from home?
There is a distinction to be made between an employee of a business working from home (where the type of work they do is already clearly established), and a tenant running their own business from home (which may change over time), but in general, the sort of work that many people are now doing from home is work they would otherwise do in an office – that is, largely clerical or computer-based, that does not require noisy equipment or face-to-face contact with customers. Indeed, the pandemic means that most business is now being conducted online, so worries about visiting customers are probably not going to be an issue.
Should I allow my tenants to work from home?
Depending on your tenancy agreement, your tenants may not need your permission to work from home, but if you are required to give it, then in most cases it should be OK to do so. The best thing you can do is talk to your tenant about the kind of work they’re doing and establish whether it is disruptive or damaging – more likely than not, it will be neither. If you feel that your tenant’s work is not appropriate for the terms of your agreement, however, you should discuss it with the tenant and seek legal advice to find out exactly what your responsibilities and rights are.
Do you have a property to let in Bristol? Gough Quarters is here to help, so contact us today to find out more.
Cover photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash
The contents of this blog post do not constitute legal advice. Please seek advice from a professional if you need it.