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  • HMO & Multi-Lets

    Unlicenced HMO Landlords Convicted

    Those with an interest in Houses of Multiple Occupancy should find the following article from the Letting Protection Service interesting. It’s about two separate HMO landlords who failed to get the correct licence and so were fined heavily in court.
    Landlords appear in court
    The rights and wrongs of HMO's have been discussed before and this article shows you what happens to those that break the rules.
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    Thanks for sharing that Marcus.
    I read recently about a LL in Wales who had loads of unlicenced HMO's where he had squeezed in extra rooms etc. He was fined heavily for non compliance of HMO regs, plus ordered to turn all the houses back into their previous layout as the council were concerned about the number of people squashed into one house in terms of the strain on sewerage etc.
    Bending/ignoring the rules is like driving without insurance. You may never need it, but if the day comes when you do, you really will be up sh1T street without a paddle!
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    Excellent. I hope more councils take this landlords to court. I have only recently viewed a HMO where the loft room has been let out, but was not properly converted. No fire escape, no fire extinguishers, no smoke alarm - nothing. Completely irresponsible. How can these people sleep at night?
    It doesn't cost the world to put this measures in place. It's not much money when one puts it in perspective to
    a) the "cost of risking lives"
    b) the cost of the property
    c) and the money that can be made on an HMO
    I have no sympathy with this people at all. Not only are they irresponsible, they also give everyone else a bad name.

    Angela
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    I am amazed that some landlords take the risk of a fine up to £20k , but I know of a few in my area that still do , I may not agree with all the HMO regulations and their cost but I would not consider it a risk worth taking and have to bow to the judgement of those beaurocrats that make the law often without sufficient consideration from consultation feedback. There are currently further steps to increase legislation on HMO's on which I have provided some feedback to my local council. It is in relation to removing licences from properties because local residents feel there are too many people occupying the local area. My response below .
    ' I would be concerned if there was any retrospective planning action in relation to existing HMO’s particularly in relation to amending the planning use class. I would also be concerned if the local authority was given discretion rights to remove HMO rights. The ability to remove rights and alteration of the planning use is likely to significantly impact the ability of landlords to obtain finance on these properties . The impact of which is likely to be a reduction of HMO’s over time and so the ability to house the lower paid, and an increase in housing benefit costs.
    I have no objection to changes in planning for future HMO’s as there seems to be a surplus of accommodation on the market. '

    If the granting of licences becomes more difficult in the future anyone considering future HMO purchases/conversions should be very careful, it may be a time to consider something different or just do non licenceable HMO's but this clearly effects profit margins !
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    Here are a few localised examples of HMO landlords paying the price for not licensing their properties. For those who would prefer to skip the articles I have listed the total costs payable by each landlord:
    Leeds landlords fines including costs £2,062 and £5,015
    Yorkshire landlords fines including costs £2467.69 and £2000
    Oxford landlord fines including costs £13500 (Oxford council clamped down on HMO’s last year and prosecuted 19 landlords)
    Birmingham landlord fined a total of £14, 591
    Oxford City Council appears to lead the way with prosecutions after initiating a borough wide clampdown on rogue HMO landlords last year.
    Reading the articles you get a sense of these landlords just not caring. It evokes memories of the slum landlords of days gone by, very Rackman-like. You would expect them to mend their ways and show a bit of consideration for their tenants but somehow I don't think they will.
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    Paul Fenton said:
    ...There are currently further steps to increase legislation on HMO's on which I have provided some feedback to my local council. It is in relation to removing licences from properties because local residents feel there are too many people occupying the local area. My response below .
    ' I would be concerned if there was any retrospective planning action in relation to existing HMO’s particularly in relation to amending the planning use class. ..."
    Slight change of subject: Use classes
    The government has carried out a consultation in May 2009 looking into the issue of use classes for HMO's.
    https://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/...pdf/hou...
    So far it has been up to the local planning department/councils how to interpret the classes. An HMO can be classed as:
    1. C3 Dwellinghouses - Family houses, or houses occupied by up to six residents living together as a single household, including a household where care is provided for residents.")
    2. C1 Hotels - Hotels, boarding and guest houses where no significant element of care is provided" or
    3. Sui Generis - Theatres, houses in multiple paying occupation, hostels providing no significant element of care...
    Should all HMO's clearly require a change of use application in future, it would give the planning department/council a lot more power to only allow HMO's in accordance with their housing strategy.
    I wonder what the result of this consultation will be.

    Angela
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    Quick post:
    Found this link to a story about landlords circumventing the three floors rule by concentrating on two floor properties, interesting.
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    What a great piece of bad journalism. I don't even know where to start ripping the article apart.
    Anyway, if Rhyl really has an issue with non-licensable HMO's why don't they implement an additional licensing scheme?
    BTW - here are some very interesting facts with regards to fire safety https://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/...ts2006.pdf
    The most death occur in the age group of 80+ year olds (percentage wise) and 30-59 year olds (as a total figure). Most fires start in the kitchen, however most fatalities occur from fires started in the living room and dining room etc etc.
    Fatalities have halved in the past 10 years. It looks to me mainly because of less people smoking and lots more smoke alarms. The main reason for smoke alarms not working is not as I thought 'flat battery', it's actually 'no battery'.
    Very interesting read.
    Angela
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    Angela O'Connor said:
    What a great piece of bad journalism. I don't even know where to start ripping the article apart.
    That was my first thought. When I read the heading 'legal loophole' in the article I was expecting some mysterious trick that only a select few knew about, not an subjective opinion on landlords adhering to the correct rules, odd.
    Thanks for my Thursday night reading material.
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    I am pleased you agree. HMO or not, LL are either responsible people or they are not. Simple as that. A shame that the spotlight is mostly on the slum landlords, giving everyone a bad name. And badly written and researched articles like that support exactly that image.
    It wouldn't surprise me if the government progresses from registering LL to imposing HMO like standards or even licensing onto all rental accommodation. Unfortunately this might be the only way to establish minimum standards.
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    Thank you to LandlordZone blog for drawing my attention to this story via Twitter @landlordzone
    Landlord prosecuted for fire risk property
    October 12, 2009 on 2:22 pm | In News | No Comments
    Camden Council has prosecuted two companies and their director for managing an unlicensed house which posed a fire risk to tenants.
    The house had missing doors, no fire detection or alarm systems, and no fire doors, which would have allowed a fire to spread quickly and undetected.
    The property, in Hornby Close in Swiss Cottage, is a three storey town house. It was let to seven tenants through two management companies, BP Associates Limited and Blix Limited. Alexander Begun was a Director of both companies.
    They were found guilty of failing to licence the property, eight offences relating to neglecting fire precautions and three other management offences.
    Each company was fined a total of £13,800 and Mr Begun was fined £4,800 for his failures as director of each company. The first £5,000 of the total £32,400 must be paid by 29 March 2010.
    Cllr Chris Knight, Executive Member, Environment, Camden Council, said:
    “I am pleased we have successfully prosecuted another landlord failing to meet their duties. The safety of tenants in the borough is a priority for Camden Council, and dangerous or illegal practices that could put a tenant’s life at risk will not be tolerated.”
    The house was let to seven unrelated tenants, and is three storeys high, which means it required a houses in multiple occupation (HMO) licence.
    The case is believed to be the first where defendants have been convicted of ‘failure to take measures as are reasonably required to protect the occupiers of the HMO from injury’.
    The defendants have other HMO licences for properties in Camden. Following these prosecutions, the Council will need to consider if the defendants continue to be ‘fit and proper’ persons to hold these licenses.¹
    The prosecution took place on 29 September 2009.
    Legislation was introduced on 6 April 2006 to require landlords managing properties with three or more floors that are occupied by five or more tenants and forming two or more households to apply for a ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ (HMO) licence.
    Landlords who fail to submit a licence application face fines of up to £20,000 and a criminal record, and tenants can claim back up to 12 months rent.
    The legislation forms part of the Housing Act 2004.
    ¹ The Housing Act enables a local authority to refuse to license an application from persons not considered ‘fit and proper’. Once a licence is granted the authority can revoke it if the relevant persons or their associates are subsequently found not to be ‘fit and proper’ persons.
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