A Northampton couple have failed in a bid to prosecute their neighbour for letting out his property in a case that, experts say, affects hundreds of people in the town.
The couple, who live in Churchill Avenue, Lake View, tried to use a covenant placed on the next door house, which prevented business usage, to stop its owner from renting it out.
But during a hearing at Northampton County Court, a judge dismissed the complaint, and, setting a possible legal precedent, ruled that letting out a property does not count as business.
Defending the landlord - Reshat Tasher, aged 36 - Lynsey Ward from DW Solicitors said: “A lot of people could be affected by this.
“All the properties around the one in question are bound by the same covenant so that will be at least 300 people.
“This is the first time that an issue like this has been dealt with in court, so other residents can now be assured that, if they have this restriction on their title deeds, it does not restrict them from simply letting the property as a residential dwelling, so long as the property is not used by the tenants as a business.
“Usually this isn’t a problem, but this case came to court because the next door neighbours did not wish for any business to be run from the property and issued proceedings against our client requesting that he evict the current tenants from the property and to either occupy or sell the property.
“If anyone is considering starting a business from their home, then I would recommend seeking legal advice.”
The complaint was originally made after the couple noticed that the tenant next door was running a small child-minding service.
They contacted the landlord, to say that the business, which backs onto a school, was creating too much noise.
By the time the couple took their complaint to court, they were arguing that the property, which Mr Tasher inherited from his aunt, was bound by a ‘restrictive covenant’ and shouldn’t even be being let out.
They argued that Mr Tasher was obliged to sell the property or move in himself.
However, while Judge Murdoch agreed that the tenants’ child-minding service was in breach of the covenenat and they should be evicted, he dismissed the couple’s complaint about letting the property.
Mr Tasher said: “The issue was barely taken seriously. The judge raised the issue that, if it’s possible to prosecute for any sort of business being involved at the property, then what happens to the newspaper delivery boy? Or the Avon represententative going to doors? Or even a teacher marking books at home?
“It was all a bit of a joke really and I don’t quite know how it got to court at all.”
Following the case, the couple were ordered to cover the legal costs of both sides, coming to a total of £12,400