My landlord doesn't want a married tenant
September 25, 2007 6:59 AM   Subscribe

LandlordFilter: My landlord is refusing to accept my potential new flatmate as a tenant because she is married. What can I do?

I currently rent a two-bedroom flat. My current flatmate is moving out, and I have lined up a new flatmate, Z, who is supposed to move in next week. She is married, but her husband will be doing a masters degree in another city and needs somewhere to live for a year. My landlord is refusing to accept Z as a new tenant because he thinks Z's husband is going to be staying at the flat all the time.

This seems unreasonable to both of us. There is already a clause in the tenancy agreement about how long a guest can stay for (no more than three weeks out of a three month period) and he's not going to be here anywhere near that much. I am allowed to sublet the flat, to which the landlord can object on "reasonable grounds", and I presume if I tried to sublet to Z he would refuse for the same reasons he won't allow her as a tenant.

Any advice on whether it's ok for him to a refuse a tenant for these reasons, or ways to persuade him he's being unreasonable? I don't have any direct contact with the landlord, it's all done through a letting agency. I am in the UK.
posted by penguinliz to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is a clause as to how long someone else can stay?

I'd never sign something like that. In fact, I've never heard of it in other than student accomodation. They're your landlord, not your moral guardian. As long as you are not causing a nuisance to other tenants and clean, tidy and paying, I fail to see what they can enforce that clause for.


This will all pivot on any particular definition of 'reasonable', I suspect, but he could certainly argue (rightly or not) that he had every reason to suspect that the proposed tenant would be likely to break the tenancy agreement in the over-stay regard. In that event, he is justified.

I think he is wrong, and that you have good grounds to argue that opinion is not enough to bar a reliable tenant (especially on such a pointless clause) but it is kind of a grey area.
posted by Brockles at 7:38 AM on September 25, 2007

UK, rtha.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:57 AM on September 25, 2007

I've heard of those clauses -- they're not uncommon in places where utilities are included, since an extra person in the place can increase the hot water (and general water) bill significantly and the other power consumption less significantly.

I wonder if you could offer a guarantee to pay extra if her husband does come to stay more than the allowed time?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:24 AM on September 25, 2007

Yeah, just about every place I've ever rented has had a clause like this. I think it's pretty standard boilerplate, actually -- less about moral guardianship (because no landlord of mine has ever seemed to give a rat's ass about my sex life) and more about money/legalities (i.e., use of utilities or the risk of ending up with an extra, non-paying tenant who's not on the lease).

On topic: what about UK non-discrimination laws? Presumably marital status is protected? (i.e., you can't refuse to rent to someone on the basis of being either single or married.)
posted by scody at 8:54 AM on September 25, 2007

There is a clause as to how long someone else can stay?

I'd never sign something like that. In fact, I've never heard of it in other than student accomodation.

A clause like that has been in every tenancy agreement that I have signed for the last 20 years. I would imagine that it's pretty standard.

But as scody says, it sounds like a discrimination issue.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:04 AM on September 25, 2007

Best answer: I can't off the top of my head remember if the new sexuality discrimination act covers goods and services, but I think that's where you need to look.

Before you have to get your big legal guns out, would being able to prove that the husband won't be able to spend that much time at the flat? I.e. a letter from his uni stating that he's studying there, and something from his landlord showing that he has his own place to stay?

I've seen these clauses, and I think they are pretty common in places with lots of students. I think it's partly to stop you having more people living in the flat than are on the lease.
posted by Helga-woo at 9:10 AM on September 25, 2007

I've missed out words. Sorry. Would being able to prove that the husband won't be spending that much time at your flat help?
posted by Helga-woo at 9:13 AM on September 25, 2007

Tell him they are getting a divorce. If he asks why, say its because she couldn't find anyplace to live.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:50 AM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

A clause like that has been in every tenancy agreement that I have signed for the last 20 years.

I was being UK specific (although I didn't make that clear). I've rented houses/flats in the UK for about 10 years and never had that sort of clause, other than in Halls of Residence or Uni-let places.

Not even checked my Canadian lease yet. Must do that.
posted by Brockles at 10:05 AM on September 25, 2007

Best answer: Can she somehow prove that her husband is (1) out of town, (2) staying there for awhile? Offer to bring a copy of his lease or statement that he's enrolled in a master's program.

As others have said, it is pretty standard clause to have in a contract about guests. There's a myriad of reasons, none of which have to do with morality, but have to do with liability of another tenant. Let's look at this way, the court might rule your husband as a de facto tenant due to his conduct and provide him with full rights. If he stays at your place beyond what would be reasonable for a guest, and your landlord turns a blind-eye, he very well may be covered under tenant rights should something happen.

I think some rudimentary documentation would not only be reasonable, but should satisfy your landlord's concerns.
posted by geoff. at 10:38 AM on September 25, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. In the end the landlord would not relent, even with documentation. So I've handed in my notice, and will be moving to a different flat which is nicer, cheaper, and has a landlord I already know to be a reasonable guy.
posted by penguinliz at 8:20 AM on October 10, 2007

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