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Letting and Young People

Background:

There has been an increase in the amount of young persons who are independent and do not live in the family home. This can cause problems in respect of housing law, as English law generally prevents such persons holding property under a tenancy, or entering into a contract with the liabilities that this might entail. The English law strives to protect individuals whom it regards as having lesser capabilities than those that people are ordinarily assumed to possess.

In law a person under the age of 18 is termed a ‘minor.’ A minor cannot hold a legal estate in land so, when letting to families with children, any children under the age of 18 would not normally be included on the tenancy agreement as they cannot enter into a tenancy or be legally bound by a contract.

It is not possible under s.1(6) Law of Property Act 1925 for a person under the age of 18 to hold an estate in land. By virtue of paragraph 1(1) ofSchedule 1to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 any purported grant of a legal estate to a minor will not be effective to pass the legal estate, but it will operate as a declaration that the premises are held in trust for the minor.

There are legal complications associated with the grant of a tenancy to a minor because the minor cannot hold a legal estate in land. Letting agreements are not generally binding on persons under the age of 18 years, except in circumstances where the minor is emancipated from their parents.

Letting to families:

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.

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