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Thought I would post my experience of having my licensing inspection done for my HMO with my local authority which was a good experience.
To be honest was dreading it but gave myself a "talking to" not to react to any comments and treat it as a learning experience!! Gave an Oscar performance. Each inspection took about an hour and a half, was very thorough and by listening (not my strong point) it was very interesting. He was extremely methodical but because my HMOs are up to standard eg had fire doors/interlinked smoke alarms/turnkey locks he realised I was a good landlord. My small room was borderline in size but he came up with a suggestion of using a cupboard in the hall for this rooms sole use which means it got through. End result was some fire doors need adjusting and not much else. Thought I would post this as it is usually very negative on licensing, if you have done it right, which to be honest you should have done think you have nothing to fear.
Realise it depends on the local authority and your inspector but this guy has a reputation for being picky but at end of day just doing his job which thankfully I don't have to do.
Thanks for taking the trouble to report on your experience Jane.
Vanessa Warwick Landlord and Co-Founder of PropertyTribes.com **If you have got value from Property Tribes, find out how you can support it in remaining a free to use community resource**
If they clearly understand that you want to do it right and appreciate their help it is a pretty bloody minded inspector who will give you a hard time.
We had one inspector who called out the soundproofing between rooms in a newly conveted HMO. Laminate floors are noisy and we had used a much thicker underlay/fibre board which luckily had a claim to reduce noise transmission by some fatuous amount but that is what it said on the label which was good enough.
what area is it located. is it a mandatory hmo?
none of my additional licence hmo's have ever been inspected!
I think you have been very lucky and it is down to the individuals you deal with in any given authority. Unfortunately I have to say my own experience couldn't have been more different and it has left me scarred for life!.
This was my first HMO and I was anxious to everything right so on buying my building I contacted the LA to let them know my plans for an HMO and the building control person visited and gave me guidance all of which I followed and I then later asked the housing department for guidance on their fire regulations as I wanted everything to be perfect and compliant.
A year later when mandatory licencing was introduced I was confident the inspector would be pleased with the HMO I had created, it had alarms, fire doors, escape windows, lovely furniture, large rooms, en suite bathrooms, everything - it looked a million dollars and I looked forward to showing it off!
The story of the inspection and what happened next is too long to recite here but the inspector had clearly come with an agenda - she ran her finger around the face of every fire door checking for intumescent strips, she reported that there was no fire blanket in the kitchen (it was there but was not hanging on a hook) and there was no indoor method drying clothes (the tumble dryer was there, vented to outside having been installed from the beginning) and the report stated she doubted whether I was a fit person to manage an HMO as there were smoking materials in one of the rooms.
The one upstairs room (this is a bungalow) was prohibited from being used due to the fire escape route to outside not being a protected route and so because of the prohibition the council informed my lender who clearly thought I was a rogue landlord and required lots of information from me to prove otherwise.
I was ordered to have a sprinkler system installed in the communal area in order to be able to use the upstairs room and I did get a quote but at an initial £3,000+ plus annual service charges I decided to just leave it and have taken the lovely, large ensuite upstairs room out of use.
To say I was devastated and out of my mind with worry over this episode doesn't nearly cover it and I slept very little over the next few months.
I'm not sure what I could have done differently to avoid all this as I thought I had covered all bases by at two different points seeking guidance from the council, demonstrating from the outset that I am a conscientious landlord who wished to comply with all regulations and to provide a comfortable and safe home for my tenants but I am left traumatised by this and I would think twice about letting myself in for the same thing again.
All comments are made in good faith and are given to the best of my knowledge and experience but I would advise you to consult an expert before making important decisions and I accept no liability for comments made.
It certainly does sound like you had a horrible inspector but to be honest I had most of that every fire door checked for intumescent strips/have tumble dryers/have fire blankets/ had checked all rooms before inspection to ensure tidy and given guys lots of notice to get the hoover out! Obviously depends on who you have, I am in Hampshire area (near Portsmouth) but had prior to setting up HMO a fire safety report done and complied with all recommendations. If you cannot use the upstairs room that can make it uneconomical but I wish you well and hope you get sorted.
Thanks Jayne and it does definitely depend on the individual officer.
I have just remembered another gem she came out with - on the application form there is a question 'does the applicant own any other licensed properties?' and I answered yes, giving the addresses of 3 fully managed student houses I have owned for 10-12 years, next question 'does the applicant manage any other properties?' and I truthfully answered 'no' as I do own some single let houses and flats but they are and always have been, fully managed. I truthfully gave them the answer I thought they were asking for as 'no'..
So in her damning report of me and my property she said I had lied on the application form!! Apparently she had felt I should have given the addresses of properties I OWN rather than MANAGE as per the question. I am always scrupulously honest in everything I do and was furious, upset, devastated at being accused of lying. I would never do that.
Sounds like you got the Jobsworth from hell there.
My recent experience was only positive. I have no idea why someone would go ape on a few technicalities when you've tried to do your best. Is there another HMO inspector in the council you could use? I know they will not put down their own, but another person may be more forgiving if you can explain the solutions to the grievances in person?