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Types of tenancies for minors Letting to families

When a minor lives with a family, although the minor does not have a tenancy there are things to consider.

Other than letting to a minor alone of course minors also form part of whole families who may wish to rent accommodation.

The normal practice followed by landlords in this situation is that only persons over the age of 18 (at the time of execution of the tenancy agreement) would be listed on the tenancy agreement itself. The parents (and any other adults that comprise the household) would hold the legal tenancy.

What then is the legal status of any children occupying a tenancy as part of a family?

In law, being minors, they would not occupy as tenants in their own right until they reach the age of majority (i.e. 18 years old). Until such time, they are simply licencees in the property, and even in the event of taking possession proceedings, only the actual tenants in the property need to be cited in any notices and proceedings.

When the children reach the age of 18 the tenancy agreement should be renewed and they should be added to the tenancy agreement as tenants in their own right. It would be advisable to make a diary note of the child’s 18th birthday to ensure that the tenancy is renewed on or shortly after this date.

Au-Pairs and Renting

A related issue occurs where a family wishes to occupy a property together with an au-pair or similar temporary occupier. As the au-pair is effectively an employee of the family, there is no requirement that she (or he) be named on the tenancy agreement.

As the accommodation is a pre-requisite of the employment for the au-pair to better carry out his/her duties, she (or he) is a service occupier or licencee (Norris v Checksfield, 1991). S/he may have exclusive possession of the accommodation, but no tenancy is created, and therefore there is no requirement that the au-pair is listed on the tenancy agreement.

Although not a requirement, the landlord may wish to make provision in the tenancy agreement for a service occupier to occupy accommodation within the property for the duration of his/her employment or until expiry of the lease, whichever is the earliest.

Guarantor agreements

If letting directly to persons under 18 then a guarantor agreement should be taken to cover not only all the financial obligations but also the other obligations in the tenancy agreement.

The guarantor will undertake to ensure that tenants under the age of 18 comply with the terms of the tenancy, and the guarantor agrees to underwrite any rent arrears or money owing to the landlord.

Due to the difficulties of bringing actions against minors, it is important to obtain a guarantor when letting to a person under the age of 18.