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How you deal with situation depends on what your proposals are going forwards. Whilst there are contractual issues to resolve, I would focus on your legal responsibilities first.
If you are ultimately the landlord and you know the property is being operated as a licensable HMO, you need to do one of two things to achieve compliance with the licensing scheme:
1. Submit a licence application; or
2. Apply for a temporary exemption from licensing for 3 months whilst you evict the occupants so the property is no longer licensable.
If you do nothing, you risk criminal prosecution or a civil penalty of up to £30,000 for being in breach of the licensing scheme.
Whilst options 1 or 2 will incur some costs, both options will bring you into compliance with the licensing as an interim measure while the situation is sorted out.
Richard Tacagni MCIEH CEnvH
London Property Licensing
This information is intended as general advice and guidance. It is not legal advice and should not be taken or relied upon as such. No liability can be accepted for any reliance on the information published in this response. You may wish to obtain independent legal advice.
Hi Richard ( and others) many thanks for your comments.
Your point 2. How do I apply for a temporary exemption ? what is the process and I assume in the same process I will be informing the council of my problem?
Each council approaches this differently. Some have an application form whereas for others you can explain the reasons for your application in a letter. Your application would need to set out your reasons for applying for a temporary exemption to meet the criteria in the Act.You will then be compliant from the day you apply, and if the council refuse, you can appeal, whilst remaining compliant. I've handled quite a few such applications, so if you need any assistance, please drop me a line.
The best thing you can do now is to employ an eviction specialist such as Landlord Action, they will have seen this scenario time and time again.
One of the first things they may ask is do you know if the tenants were served with all the correct documents before moving in.
This is exactly the reason I avoid R2R operators like the plague despite being frequently approached by them.
Good luck and keep us posted.
Omega Property (Formerly SBS Ltd.)
I am not professionally trained to give advice, generally posting for the benefit of the community or my own personal development.