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Housing Act Guide


In this Section we will be looking at some of the key definitions which apply throughout the legislation.

“Person having control”

This is a phrase which has been used in housing legislation since before the Second World War. It is a vital definition as the legislation places many obligations on the person having control i.e. the person who receives the rack rent of the premises (whether on his own account or as agent or trustee of another person). “Rack rent” means a rent which is not less than two thirds of the full market value of the premises. If the premises are unlet or let at less than a rack rent (e.g. at a ground rent) it is the person who would receive it if the premises were let at a rack rent”. The key points to note that that to be the person having control you must receive rent but you can receive it in your own right or as agent (or Trustee) for another. Thus, a managing agent who collects rent will be the person having control as well as the landlord. More than one person can be the person having control at the same time.


  1. Normally you would have to take the rent money into your bank account to be the person having control.
  2. A bank holding an account into which the rent money is paid will not normally be a person having control.
  3. A Solicitor or accountant who receives rent into his client account is likely to be a person having control.
  4. A rent collector acting for someone else will not normally be a person having control.

The purpose underlying the definition is to make it less difficult for local authorities to serve notices in a case where the owner (in the strict sense) cannot be found. This applies particularly in the case of absent owners or owners who hide behind agents. It is intended to mean that there is someone who is responsible and can be served with notices to whom the local authority can look for expenses. It has nothing to do with whether the person served is capable of dealing with the notice or indeed, whether or not they have authority to do so.

“Person Managing”

Unlike the person having control, the person managing must own the property or have a lease of it. However, it will include their agents
“Person managing” means the person who being an owner or lessee of the premises receives (whether directly or through an agent or trustee) rents or other payments from – (i) (in the case of an HMO), persons who are in occupation as tenants or licensees of parts of the premises or (ii) (in the case of a house to which selective licensing applies) the persons who are in occupation of tenants or licensees of parts of the premises or of the whole of the premises.

It extends to a person who would receive those rents/other payments but for having entered into an arrangement with another person who is not an owner or lessee of the premises by virtue of which that other person receives the rents or other payments e.g. an arrangement relating to housing benefits.

The definition also includes in the case where the rents or other payments are received by another person as agent or trustee, the agent or trustee himself.


“Owner” means a person (other than a lender who has not repossessed the property) who is for the time being entitled to dispose of the freehold of the premises. It also includes a tenant/lessee under a lease of which the un-expired term exceeds 3 years.


“Lessee” means any tenant or lessee of the premises. It also includes a statutory tenant of the premises under the Rent Act.

Any reference to a person who is a tenant under a lease with an un-expired term of three years or less includes a statutory tenant under the Rent Act, as well as a periodic tenant e.g. a monthly tenant.

Person having an estate/interest

“Person having an estate or interest” includes a statutory tenant (i.e. under the Rent Act). Basically it is anyone having an interest in the property such as a freeholder or a leaseholder/tenant.


“License” in the context of a license to occupy premises includes a license not granted for any rent or other consideration. However, it excludes a license granted as a temporary expedient to a person who entered the premises as a trespasser, whether or not before the grant of a license and a license to occupy those premises had been granted to him.


“Occupier” means a person who occupies the premises as a residence. So long as he occupies them as a residence, it does not matter whether this is as tenant, or as a licensee. This definition is qualified in certain respects for the purposes of certain provisions of the legislation. Related expressions, such as occupation, are to be interpreted in the same way.

Relevant Person

This expression is used in different places in the legislation to describe someone other than the licence holder who has an involvement with the property. It means any person who has an interest in the house. It includes the Owner or Lessee. It will include the landlord, any lender, a long leaseholder and a person who has a lease for more than three years. It excludes for these purposes a tenant under a lease with less than 3 years left to run. Relevant person also excludes a periodic tenant such as a monthly/weekly tenant. Relevant Person includes the Person Managing or the Person Having Control of the house; or someone under a restriction/obligation imposed under the licence affecting the property.

Member of the Family

A person is a member of the same family as another person if (a) they are a couple. This means persons married to each other or who have lived together as husband wife or in an equivalent same sex relationship or (b) one of them is a relative of the other (i.e. parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin). They will still be related if one of them is, or is a relative of one member of a couple and the other is a relative of the other member of the couple.

For these purposes a relationship of the half blood is treated as a relationship of the whole blood and a stepchild is treated as a child.


A Person who is both (a) the OCCUPIER of the property AND (b) who is the freeholder or holds under a lease which was originally granted for more than 21 years.

Note: Where this expression is used in deciding whether or not a converted block of flats is an HMO to be the owner/occupier of a flat the person must be both occupying the flat and have a lease of the flat granted for more than 21 years or be the freeholder of the block. It appears just owning the freehold of the flat itself is not enough.

Spent convictions

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 criminal convictions can become spent or ignored after a rehabilitation period. They do not need to be disclosed. The rehabilitation period varies depending on the sentence or order imposed by the Court – not the nature of the offence. Custodial sentences of more than two and a half years never become spent. All borstal or detention centre sentences are now spent. The periods from the date of conviction are as follows:-


Rehabilitation Period
1. Prison sentences of 6 months or less, including suspended sentences and detention in a young offender institution 7 years (3½ years if 17 or younger when convicted)
2. Prison sentences of more than 6 months to 2 and a half years, including suspended sentences and detention in a young offender institution 10 years (5 years if 17 or younger)
3. Fines (even if subsequently imprisoned for fine default), compensation, probation (for convictions on or after 3 February 1995), community service, combination, action plan, curfew, drug treatment and testing and reparation orders 5 years (2½ years if 17 or younger)
4. Absolute discharge 6 months
5. Conditional discharge or bind-over, probation (for convictions before 3 February 1995), supervision, care orders 1 year or until the order expires (whichever is longer)
6. Attendance centre orders 1 year after the order expires
7. Hospital orders (with or without a restriction order) 5 years or 2 years after the order expires (whichever is longer)
8. Referral Order Once the order expires


This document was last updated on: 17/05/2007

General Disclaimer

IMPORTANT: Our website (including the Unique Property Selector) can only give general guidance. You always need to specifically check the status of any property individually and take appropriate advice including general guidance from the local authority where it is located.

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