KT Property v Joseph Pritchard Bristol County Court 3 February 2011

This case, although quite rare was in our view certainly interesting and was one that made the mice in our heads revolve on the spinning wheel at great speed and for long periods of time. That being said, full credit must go to Evicthem as they did the vast majority of work.

Background

During January 2010, the landlord (KT Property) was approached by a prospective tenant but he was under 18 and so could not be granted an assured shorthold tenancy (see here). The local authority stepped in and agreed to rent the property from the landlord for a period of six months whilst the tenant became 18, the intention being that the landlord would then offer an assured shorthold tenancy to the occupier (subject to there being no problems during the six months).

On 11 January 2010, the landlord granted a contractual tenancy to a subsidiary of Bristol Council for a period of six months. They then placed the defendant into the property.

At the end of six months, they stopped paying the rent (most likely quite rightly because the tenancy had come to an end). The landlord though was unsure as to the current position and because he had demanded rent after the end of the tenancy, a safe route was taken and a notice to quit was served on 22 September 2010 to ensure the tenancy was truly at an end.

After expiry of the notice to quit, the landlord offered an assured shorthold tenancy to the occupier defendant but he refused to sign or accept the tenancy.

It should be noted that the landlord was perfectly happy with the occupier but neither they nor the council were paying any rent and the council had not given back the property with vacant possession so clearly it was a situation that needed resolving somehow.

This left a difficult question. What was the position of the occupier? A local authority can only grant a secure tenancy and not an assured shorthold tenancy but was this still in existence when the tenancy between landlord and the council ended? If so, was the landlord stuck with a secure tenant for life? Or, was it possible for the secure tenancy to convert into an assured shorthold tenancy?

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