Are local council HMO standards enforceable against non-licensable HMOs?

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    Are local council HMO standards enforceable against non-licensable HMOs?

    I have a non-licensable HMO (four tenants over two storeys, with no additional or selective licensing schemes in place in the area).

    My question: are the local council's own HMO standards enforceable against my HMO? My concern is that the council's standards require a minimum bedroom size for one person of 9m2, but two of my property's four bedrooms are only 7m2. If the council were alerted to this fact, would there be any legal process open to them by which they could prevent me from letting those two bedrooms?

    #2
    No, I dont believe they would be enforceable. Make sure none of the tenants move a boyfriend/girlfriend in though or youll likely have a mandatory licensable hmo

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      #3
      Thank you for your answer, DPT57. I am alive to the boyfriend/girlfriend point.

      What you say accords with my own understanding. However, I just put my property's details into the council's "Do I need a property licence?" checker, and it says the following (I have put the bits which look odd to me in bold and red):

      This property doesn't need a licence but should comply with:
      • HMO management regulations
      • our HMO standards
      • the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
      All properties require an inspection by an environmental health officer or surveyor to ensure that they meet the requirement of the above standards.
      Taking them one-by-one:
      • As already discussed it is not clear that the council has any legal mechanism available to it to directly enforce its own HMO standards (including minimum room sizes) in a non-licensable HMO. With this in mind, I am wondering whether it relevant that the introductory wording says "should" comply with as opposed to "must" comply with (and the council is being somewhat misleading in implying that its standards are enforceable!). That said, the first and third bullet points definitely are directly enforceable.
      • The final sentence seems very odd indeed. If the council does want to inspect every HMO including ones with just three or four occupants, why not just introduce an additional licensing scheme like so many other councils have? And without an additional licensing scheme in place, how can such an inspection be genuinely mandatory? There is also no further information whatsoever on the council's website about the nature of these inspections, nor on how to organise one, nor on whether the council charges a fee for them!
      Any further advice would be very gratefully received. In case there's anyone with local knowledge about, the council in question is Lambeth and their HMO pages are here.

      Comment


        #4
        I think they're exceeding their authority but apparently this is not uncommon. If you're a member of the RLA then ask for their help. Their Policy Director, David Smith might be aware of this and if not then I'm sure he'd be interested and would probably write to them to clarify.

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