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Using University Property to Combat Coronavirus

on Monday, 27 April 2020.

While coronavirus (COVID-19) is placing all sorts of pressure on our daily business and personal lives, there are plenty of signs that many people are doing their bit in these difficult times. Good Samaritans are everywhere.

By way of example, some universities are making space available on their campuses to local NHS Trusts to enable them to treat non-emergency patients at centres away from where they are dealing with more serious cases like coronavirus and other patients. Others are allowing car parks to be used as drive-thru coronavirus testing centres, or are making laboratory space available for testing.

Coronavirus Legal Advice

Short-Term Arrangements - What to Consider

Essentially, we are talking about a licence which is shorter than six months.

If you have space available and are willing to help out then you should consider the following points:

  • The physical space within your campus - what can you make available in terms of consulting and waiting rooms, car park or other open spaces, or laboratories?
  • Controlling access to specific parts of the campus - eg somewhere for parking and internal common areas, such as entrance halls, corridors, toilet facilities and the like.
  • Duration of the licence - we would recommend certainly no more than six months.
  • What about the price they pay? Here you would normally expect to charge an amount which typically covers the cost of hire - a licence fee based on weekly or monthly use. It would also be usual to ask the licensee to cover the cost of services, eg electricity and water, assuming of course these are separately metered. If they aren't then do your best to provide a figure which represents reasonable use - it is not always an exact science in these instances.
  • How quickly can you move the licensee out? Typically with a licence of this sort you would want to be able to terminate immediately for breaches but also give minimal notice, reflective that this arrangement is a permission and not giving any interest in the land, such as a lease, to the third party.
  • In order to control the person with whom you are contracting - make it a personal licence, specific to one body, rather than them being able to share use more widely.
  • What about how they use the property? Here you can control the usage very strictly. Make the specific user very particular to that party. Moreover you can set out a list of more usual 'dos' and 'don'ts', ie do keep it clean, don't cause damage etc.
  • What if something goes badly wrong? Normally you would expect the licensee to give an indemnity for their use of the property, so if there is a problem they indemnify you as the landowner. It is also worth insisting they carry a minimum level of professional indemnity insurance cover too.

Used well, a licence is a good and well-established way to allow someone else to occupy and make short term use of part of your property.

For further information on implementing short-term arrangements for your property, please contact a member of our our Real Estate team, or complete the form below.


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