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  • HMO & Multi-Lets

    HMO - what is definition of one household?

    I made a flippant remark on another thread that you could "rent a home to the seven brides of seven brothers and it would not be an HMO as they were one family and therefore one household". I was corrected that this would in fact be 7 households and therefore an HMO. I then suggested that the 7 brothers and 1 bride could live as one household and 2 more brides could live as lodgers without creating an HMO, as 1 household plus 2 lodgers is not an HMO. The outcome on this is not clear as the HMO legislation appears to contradict the Rent a Room legislation.

    In a more realistic scenario what is the following?

    2 parents living with 2 adult children. Both children have partners who have come to live with them in the family home. As it may be a deciding factor, both the children and their partners are making an informal financial contribution. Is this:

    1 family unit, i.e. 1 household?

    1 family unit with 2 lodgers (although an informal arrangement)?

    A licenceable HMO?

    Does it make any difference if the parents are owner occupiers, mortgaged or tenants?

    Going back to the seven brides of seven brothers - What is the legislation if they are living as a commune, a cooperative or a religious group?

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    A good teacher must know the rules; a good pupil, the exceptions.

    Martin H. Fischer

    I think both the 7 brothers with 7 brides, and the 6 person family group count as single household is my interpretation .

    It's best to mentally add one person at a time to the group , because the phrasing is ' if this new person has relationship X to an existing person - then it's still counted as a single family'. Or at least that's my interpretation of it.

    "For the purposes of subsection (2)(a) a person is a member of the same family as another person if—

    (a)those persons are married to each other or live together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex);

    (b)one of them is a relative of the other; or

    ©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.“

    So the 7 brothers, they are all one family because of (b) so we have one family at this point.

    Add wife1.

    For the purposes of subsection (2)(a)  wife1 is a member of the same family as brother1 if

    (a) they are married.

    So wife1 is considered a part of the existing one family we have because of the marriage.

    We still just have one 'family'. Rinse and repeat for 6 more wives, still have one family because they all join into the existing family - the marriage relationship doesn't break the sibling relationship.

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    DISCLAIMER just my personal opinion - for legal advice consult a qualified professional grown-up.

    So in my scenario I have 5 people living in a house all with individual agreements. 2 are related (uncle and nephew). Does that bring me down to 4 and therefore it’s still an HMO but don’t need a licence?

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    No, because the criteria for HMO is >1 household. you have 4 households.
    The threshold for mandatory licencing (come october 2018 ) is  5+ tenants and  2+ households  

    (you have to get down to 1 household - regardless of number of tenants - to not be an HMO)

    (or down to 4 tenants to not be a mandatory licensed HMO

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    DISCLAIMER just my personal opinion - for legal advice consult a qualified professional grown-up.


    Your original flippant remark was completely right depending on the time you were talaking about. If the seven brides and seven brothers were all married it would be one household. This is because there is no central point for measuring a household, it’s a chain of relationships and the chain would be sound. If they have yet to wed then it will depend on the relationships between them all. The seven brothers are all one household. Anyone who is married to one of them (as I recall one of the brothers is married throughout the film) would also be part of this household. Anyone who was related to any of the brothers or the married lady, even as far as cousins, would also be part of the household. While the film does not explore the details of the relationships between the various brides I would suspect given the historical period that many of them were in fact related. 

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    David Smith
    Landlord & Tenant Solicitor
    Anthony Gold Solicitors

    Find me on LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/dsnsmith

    All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my firm. No comment made should be taken as legal advice and you should consult a solicitor or other legal professional for advice on your specific situation.

    If one of the women was living with one of the brothers as husband and wife but not formally married they would also form part of the one household based on my interpretation of paragraph 258(3)(a) of the Housing Act 2004.

    (3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a) a person is a member of the same family
    as another person if—
    (a) those persons are married to each other or live together as husband and
    wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same
    sex);

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    Lets go with a really crazy example to illustrate how bonkers this can get - and someone shout if my logic is flawed let us see we have this group of 6......

    >husband and wife (2nd marriage and each has existing children)

    >son (of husband from 1st marriage) - and daughter (of wife from 1st marriage)

    >cousin of son - cousin of daughter.

    Now it seems that the 'chain' does not have to exist solely within the people living in the house, it has to exist, but can extend outside the house. My father is still my father whether he live with me or not.

    My cousin is still my cousin even if my parent, and their sibling (my Aunt/Uncle) is not living with me.

    .......so lets continue this thought experiment....

    parents move out..... chain still exists... still one household because chain exists....

    son and daughter move out leaving just the cousins....

    Now while we have started with a well connected chain, look how loose it is now, and yet still counts as one household - and we don't have to have got here from our starting point, just the two cousins via the interconnecting marriage would have done to start with.

    And the law just says 'cousin' it does not say 'first cousin'... while we might use the two interchangeably in every day usage the law has to be precise, so it would seem 2nd cousin thrice removed would do since the most broad definition of cousin is 'someone I share a common ancestor with'

    ....so we have these two cousins which are one household.... but the interconnecting marriage now divorces. oh dear, now we have 2 households ! So an external event, with people living outside the house (who have maybe never lived there) has transformed this house into an HMO without any kind of change in the way the people in the house live together... bonkers.

    ....and (while I don't know how you would evidence it) this law gives a co-habiting relationship equivalence to marriage....

    In short I think this goes to show how arbitrary the definition of 'family' in this law is, which to my mind makes it potentially discriminatory since any kind of pure 'friendship' relationship always gets dumped in the 'hmo' bucket even if the T have rented the house together on a shared contract and have a financial relationship by paying the rent and bills together....

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    DISCLAIMER just my personal opinion - for legal advice consult a qualified professional grown-up.


    What proof is required of a family connection between tenants or a relationship and who is responsible for providing it?

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    A good teacher must know the rules; a good pupil, the exceptions.

    Martin H. Fischer

    That is a very good question to which I don't have an answer.

    I'm shortly going to be asking this question to two groups of T, if they say they fall into definition of a family then I don't know what evidence to collect that would satisfy a council.

    Family tree? Birth certificates ?(which in case of tenants in question all be in a foreign language)

    All seems quite invasive to me.

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    DISCLAIMER just my personal opinion - for legal advice consult a qualified professional grown-up.

    Oxford City Council limit cousin to first cousin:

    https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20237/pro...cial_cases

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    A good teacher must know the rules; a good pupil, the exceptions.

    Martin H. Fischer

    Lol, didn't realise Oxford council was the houses of parliament - or the supreme Court.

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    DISCLAIMER just my personal opinion - for legal advice consult a qualified professional grown-up.