Question: I have rented a top-floor flat for three years. It is in a Victorian house converted into three flats. We’ve all had access to the back garden via a gate at the side, but recently the landlord put a new lock on the gate and said that the garden was only for the use of residents of the ground-floor flat. Is there anything I can do about this?
© Merrily Harpur
Answer: Firstly look at your lease to see what rights you were expressly granted in relation to the garden.
Often, all the flats in a property are given rights over the use of a shared garden, but sometimes only one flat has that right. Assuming you do have a right in your lease to use the garden, you need to consider whether your landlord has given himself the option to terminate that right and whether he has followed the correct process in doing so.
If there is no express right in your lease, all is not lost. Your next option is to think about how you came to start using the garden. You may have been given what is known as a “bare licence” to use it. Alas, your landlord can usually quite easily terminate a bare licence so long as he gives reasonable notice.
Finally, you might be able to assert that when you started renting the flat you were promised you could use the shared garden, and if you have since maintained or improved that garden, that you should not now suddenly have the use of it terminated.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.