A very recent case heard in the County Court at Central London raises concerns for leaseholders who let their property under short term lets.
Ashley Gardens Freeholds Limited v Linda Marinelli Landor is a case that relates to Ms L,
the leaseholder of a flat in an Earls Court apartment block, overlooking Westminster Cathedral. The papers described her as an internationally renowned poet who uses the pen name Jessica D'Este - originally lived in the block, overlooking Westminster Cathedral, with her surgeon husband.
Forfeiture proceedings were issued , in which Ms L was accused of continuing to let out the property on Airbnb and similar sites for short term lets and for parties.
It was alleged that she appeared in a photo on an Airbnb advert wearing a hat, offering bed and breakfast, and boasting good reviews.
Giving evidence, Mrs Drummond (who lived in the flat below) said there had been a 'constant stream' of bed and breakfast guests to the flat. Night time 'soirees', with paying guests enjoying music recitals and on one occasion Flamenco dancing, had also caused disruption.
Despite Ms L's apparent case that these were family and friends, and that any apparent payment was a donation to her arts foundation, the court was not impressed, and reached a finding that this was 'blatantly untrue'.
The court concluded that :
'It was and is a business obviously dedicated to supplementing her very meagre income and thereby allowing her to maintain a style of living which she enjoys and enjoys sharing with others.'
The Court found Ms L in breach of lease clauses forbidding:
• use other than occupancy for a single family
• Use for a business
Forfeiture was ordered, but delayed for 6 months to give Ms L an opportunity to sell the flat. If she is not able to sell the flat within that time, she will lose it.