‘Housing Division’ named as Landlord…

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  • #284652
    garethbannister
    Participant

    Hi

    We have received an HB claim where the owner of the property is a charity / NFP company (not a RSL) but have named the landlord on the TA as ‘millbrook property services (MPS)’ and have stated in their response to our request for info that MPS are ‘fully part of the charity and not a separate legal entity’.

    I’m wondering why they would put the LL on the TA as a named part of their organisation when that is not a legal entity that owns or leases the property? Any ideas?

    Thank you

    #284654
    Alistair Costelloe
    Participant

    MPS may be an entity owned by the charity/NFP or one if its trustees/directors, but unless MPS is a charity/NFP themselves they do not benefit from the charitable/NFP status of their parent.

    Alternatively, they may be an agent for the charity/NFP where the tenants’ landlord is actually the NFP.

    Either way, I don’t see how MPS can be ‘fully part of the charity’ – unless they can fully describe the legal relationship between the MPS and the charity/NFP and why they trade under that name.

    I note that Millbrook Property Services Ltd was dissolved by voluntary strike off in 2014 https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/08095874

    My best guess is that they have an insufficiently developed understanding of HB and would benefit from some external advice on how to appropriately structure their operation.

    #284660
    garethbannister
    Participant

    Thanks for replying. The MPS on companies house is not the MPS in question (they are an unlinked window cleaning company. I found them too, sorry should have said). The ‘millbrook property services’ named on the tenancy are referred to as a ‘housing arm’, a ‘housing division’ and a ‘brand name of the Housing Division’.

    This is from the property owners website:

    ‘Affinity Trust also has its own housing arm, Millbrook Property Services (MPS), a specialist landlord for people with disabilities. MPS sometimes has vacancies in properties it already owns. In the last few years MPS has developed properties for people with complex needs.’

    This MPS do not own or lease the properties we have claims for and do not appear to be legal entity capable of owning or leasing a property. The tenancy clearly states ‘This Tenancy Agreement is between Millbrook Property Services and….’

    Affinity have confirmed that MPS are not a separate legal entity. As far as I understand the law, a legal tenancy agreement can only be between a landlord (i.e. an owner or leaseholder) and a tenant. MPS are neither, merely a named department of the owning charity. Why would this be any more legitimate than naming a random member of staff as landlord?

    #284663
    Peter Barker
    Keymaster

    This sounds similar to the old Stonham BASS contract. The Home Group took over a small housing association called Stonham some years ago, and the registered society of that name was dissolved. But Home continued to use the Stonham brand name for their supported housing line of business and ran the MoJ BASS contract under the Stonham banner. They used a lot of leased property and the leases were (quite properly) between Home and the property owners as Stonham didn’t exist. Cannot remember of they used the nae Stonham on the licence agreements.

    Another example is Rethink, which is a trading name used by the National Schizophrenia Fellowship.

    I don’t know whether the use of a recognised “trading as” name on a tenancy or licence agreement voids the agreement – I would suspect not and the agreements probably have effect as equitable tenancies, but that’s really one for a housing lawyer to answer.

    #284666
    garethbannister
    Participant

    Hi Peter. Slightly similar although MPS do not appear to have any history of existence as anything other than a named arm/division/brand of Affinity. Affinity do not describe themselves as trading as MPS. Rethink Mental Illness is the official name of the previous National Schizophrenia Fellowship, it was a name change rather than a switch to ‘trading as’.

    This is an interesting and relevant case –

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/644111986dda69000d11e1a1/38_Oakside_Court.pdf

    A person named as LL was neither an owner or leaseholder but was still held to be the LL as he was a legal entity (i.e. a person) that received the rent. I can’t see how MPS satisfy any of the requirements to be regarded as LL. I have asked….

    #284676
    liffe
    Participant

    I think Peter have a steer towards the answer here. An example

    a. I have a limited Company – Eureka Projects Limited – registered and all ok
    b. The Limited company also trades as ‘Cozy Housing’ – Puts T/A on its documents etc.

    There’s nothing wrong with that and if using the T/A is the Limiteds ‘usual way of doing business’
    I think that would be acceptable.

    The other question is whether the Limited company fulfils the Landlord condition. If its a limited by guarantee, it usually is but of its a normal limited company, then its a profit making company.

    i don’t believe that the T/A can have a different ‘personality’ from the main limited.

    #284746
    garethbannister
    Participant

    Thanks. Neither the Ltd Co (by guarantee) or the charity trade as MPS. I’ve never seen a TA drawn up like this. Still awaiting an explanation…..

    #286744
    Julien
    Participant

    Hi did you ever get to the bottom of this as we have one exactly the same?

    #286745
    garethbannister
    Participant

    Hi

    Unfortunately not. I don’t think they really knew why they were doing it that way themselves, and we decided to let it slide…

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