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  • HMO & Multi-Lets

    HMO without licence and AST contract

    Good evening to everyone,

    My situation was renting in a house with 2 storeys and several rooms for 6 months.
    There was a live in landlord (first room), me and my girlfriend (second room), a girl (third room), and for 2 months one boy(fourth room).
    1) We where all lodgers, but the landlord gave us an AST assured shorthold tenancy (is that legal?)

    2) The house was and is without HMO licence, I have checked on the online register in the borough of that house.

    3) After I left the house, the landlord is refusing to give me back my deposit, and now is asking me money to pay all the council tax, and other bills. (is that legal? after 20 days I left the house)

    I have repaired several things by myself in that house, I left my room in perfect condition, I was all the time really kind with my landlord eveng sending before the date the rent, this is too much.

    What can I do and how can I proceed?

    Thank you for the help

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    Off to bed now but I'll drop a reply in tomorrow.

    Craig

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    https://www.LGFA92.co.uk council tax consultants.
    Posting as @CouncilTaxGuy on Twitter
    Why not look at our blog at https://www.lgfa92.co.uk/blog


    Any posts are my own opinion on legislation and may vary from your local authorities !

    (*Moderator note:  Comment removed*).

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    Hi David,

    Sorry to hear of your plight.

    An AST was not the appropriate contract for this situation.  You should have been given a licence.

    What deposit scheme was your deposit registered with?  Were you given the prescribed information?

    If not, you are entitled to up to 3 times the deposit back.

    The landlord is not entitled to withhold your deposit without good reason, and should have evidence as to why he is withholding it.  If you do not agree with the deductions, you can use the dispute procedure of the TDP your deposit was registered with.

    Did it say in your tenancy agreement that you were liable for council tax and bills?

    Check the terms and conditions of the agreement he gave you as that will outline your obligations to each other.

    I will ask our legal experts to comment, but, from what you have said, it seems your landlord is acting outside of the law and you have a strong case against him.

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    I don't think the Tenancy Deposit Scheme applies if there is a live in landlord? You should still be legally entitled to your deposit though and without deduction if you have caused no damage.

    As the house is only two storeys it may not need an HMO a licence, depending on the local authority.

    If you had exclusive occupation of your room then you will have had a tenancy and not a licence arrangement although a document claiming to be an AST (a certain type of tenancy) might not be completely correct in this situation).

    The basis of agreement would probably still stand though - i.e if you agreed to pay utility bills and council tax in the contract document.

    Vanessa is asking for clarity on things from the specialists on the forum. The other thing you could also do is describe the situation to the Environmental Health Officers at your local council (witholding property and landlord details should you prefer) and I am sure they would be willing to assist and help you.

    Legal redress in respect of your deposit might be via the small claims court which is a simple process and the landlord would probably pay up once he gets notification of your claim.

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    All comments are for casual information purposes only. If you wish to rely on any advice I have given please ensure you obtain independent specialist advice from a third party. No liability is accepted for comments made.

    With regards to the Council Tax aspect -

    As far as Council Tax legislation goes you're not liable for the Council Tax charge as the property currently stands due to the fact that is a resident landlord in the property*.

    If however you had something in your contract to pay the landlord a charge towards any Council Tax then it is an agreement that he may be able to pursue via the County Court.

    * This assume the property has not been split in to individual dwellings by the valuation office as that would completely alter the playing field regarding Council Tax liability.

    Craig

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    https://www.LGFA92.co.uk council tax consultants.
    Posting as @CouncilTaxGuy on Twitter
    Why not look at our blog at https://www.lgfa92.co.uk/blog


    Any posts are my own opinion on legislation and may vary from your local authorities !

    This is the borough of the property: www.hounslow.gov.uk/hmos_licensing
    The house was 2 storeys, 3 households inside, 4/5 people living inside including the live in landlord, if I read well the house should need a licence, could someone confirm please?

    My deposit was not putted in a protection scheme.

    Even if I was a lodger and my contract was a AST is this legally correct and contract has value? At the beginning of the rent my landord told me that the council was included in the rent, and only in case of raise of council tax he will be asking me to pay the difference.

    Here the section of my cotract:
    (a) Charges for gas, electricity, water, internet, television services consumed during the occupation of the premises are covered within the rent figure of £470 per person. Within reasonable usage limits, capped at £50 per person per month, if this is exceeded this will be at the discretion of the ‘Landlord’ but over/ heavy usage may result in tenant(s) liability.
    (b) Where applicable, to pay fairly apportioned standing charges, relating to consumption of gas, electricity, (water, telephone and telecommunication charges).
    © To observe and perform any obligation on the part of the Tenant arising under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 or regulations made thereunder to pay Council Tax

    He is asking me to pay too for a replacement of the lock of the main door, that was already old at the beginning, and a broken window that was not in my room, this are not supposed to be major work entitled to the landlord for law?

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    To observe and perform any obligation on the part of the Tenant arising under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 or regulations made thereunder to pay Council Tax

    This part falls down straight away - under S6 of the LGFA92 you have no liability for Council Tax so this section would be worthless anyway in that respect.

    As long as there are two adults (or more) in the property who were not disregarded for Council Tax purposes then the number of occupiers does not make any difference to the Council Tax charge anyway.

    Craig

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    https://www.LGFA92.co.uk council tax consultants.
    Posting as @CouncilTaxGuy on Twitter
    Why not look at our blog at https://www.lgfa92.co.uk/blog


    Any posts are my own opinion on legislation and may vary from your local authorities !

    Look if you have a live-in LL you cannot be a tenant if there are no locks on the bedroom door and the LL has the right to access this room any time they wish, though courtesy from the LL is to be expected.

    .A lodger pays an inclusive rent.

    Very rarely do LL charge Council Tax on top of the monthly rent.

    Providing there is no lock on the bedroom door then you should have been given a lodger agreement.

    It is NOT compulsory to have a written lodger agreement but it makes sense to have one!

    There is NO requirement to protect a lodger's deposit with any of the deposit regulators.

    But the LL may protect the deposit if he wishes.

    A live in LL should provide all domestic requirements except for personal food; bathroom and washing consumables.

    Toilet rolls are household consumables that should be LL supplied.

    ANY issues with the property are solely the responsibility of the LL

    If malicious damage is caused by any lodger then deductions from a deposit may be made.

    In practice this never occurs

    Accidents will always happen in the cut and thrust of a domestic environment with multiple occupants.

    We drop plates and break glasses etc.

    The lodger is not required to carry out any maintenance at all.

    That is the LL responsibility.

    The LL is responsible for providing all normal domestic items.

    If the chooses to have more that is up to him, but is not an obligation.

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    The best person to answer this is a solicitor such as David Smith, however I will give him something to correct:

    The property had a Live In Landlord and more than 2 tenants and thus is an HMO (i.e. Live In Landlords with up to 2 tenants are not HMO). 

    Hounslow has an Additional Licensing Scheme for HMO and so the LL needs to be Licensed. The fine for not being Licensed is up to £20,000.

    Although a License is the best option for a Live In Landlord, it is not mandatory and an AST is perfectly valid, and gives the Tenant rights that the Landlord doesn't have to concede.

    A Live In Landlord with a Tenant (i.e. AST) does NOT have to protect the deposit (this was a surprise to me, but there you go!).

    The Landlord is responsible for the Council Tax in an HMO.


    Your best option is to negotiate the friendly return of the deposit, using the above facts to aid your argument. If this doesn't work you can turn nasty & see if threatening to dob him in to the Council over the license will change his mind (he'd be stupid not to). Your final option is to take a claim to Money Claim Online - it's not overly difficult to do, and on the basis of the facts that you have presented you would certainly win your deposit, plus interest, plus costs (mainly Court Costs)


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