A couple who wanted to evict their tenant to fund a life in Spain have instead been ordered to give him cheap rent for life due to a 92-year-old law.
David and Sheila Harding bought the 3-bedroom house from their friend and neighbour Colin Gregory when he told them he was struggling to pay the mortgage. The couple then used a buy to rent scheme to enable Gregory to keep living in the property.
Gregory continued to live in the property, paying £800 a month to the Hardings in rent, something which he'd been under the impression he could do indefinitely.
However, when the couple decided to sell up three years ago to finance their new life, Mr Gregory did not want to leave the £310,000 home in Peacehaven, East Sussex.
The Hardings decided to take Gregory to court, having been assured by solicitors that they would win the case, but the end result was far from what they had expected.
David Harding pictured outside the property (Credit: SWNS)
Mr Gregory claimed he sold the house to Mr and Mr Harding for a reduced price only because he could rent it for as long as he wanted, something which was disputed heavily by the Hardings and which didn't appear in the tenancy agreement.
However, under the little known 1925 property act, Gregory is able to remain in the property and pay a fixed rent of £800 for the next 90 years. His solicitor also cited a case from 1948, where a woman was allowed to live rent-free for live in a property she had sold to her brother for under the market value.
Mr and Mrs Harding had to pay Mr Gregory's £11,000 court costs as well as being told they could only sell their home to someone who will carry on giving their tenant 'cut-price' rent.
The couple fear the lease could even be passed on to his relatives when he dies.
"We own it, we pay the mortgage on it, we bought it but due to a nearly 100-year-old law he gets to live in it on the cheap. We have nowhere to turn to and can't believe it has turned out like this," Mr Harding, a former roofing company owner, told the Mail.
"We went into court told by our solicitors that there would be no problem and walked out with him winning the case and us owing him costs. It's ludicrous. There is nothing more we can do.
"We want to warn other people who are thinking of entering into any kind of agreement like this. We did everything by the book and look where it ended up.
"Nobody had ever heard of the law the solicitor used but it has cost us dearly. We're stuffed."
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