Housing Act 2004 - Section 235 & Local Government Act section 16 Notice

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    Housing Act 2004 - Section 235 & Local Government Act section 16 Notice

    Hi All - i'm hoping for some advice on how to proceed with this - as we feel we are being bullied a bit by an enforcement officer.

    I had a phone call this wk from a housing enforcement officer who had 2 complaints from a former tenant - 1) that we were operating an unlicensed HMO; and 2) that there were hazards at the property (for which he mentioned drainage issues).

    I explained that the property had 3 individual tenants and was therefore a HMO but was not one that needed licensing and that he was welcome at anytime to see the property - he agreed that this would not need a license and we ended the call.

    I have subsequently received 3 letter from council
    1. Housing Act 2004: Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation: just informing me of the conversation we had; confirming we didnt need a license but still going on to warn us that "on a future occurrence we find that your property is occupied as an unlicensed HMO" we will be prosecuted without warning.

    2. Housing Act 2004 - Section 235 (notice requiring disclosure of documents: They have asked for electrical report, gas cert, copies of tenancy agreements going back 2 years; copy of rental income going back 2 years and my bank statements going back 2 years!

    3. Local Government Act section 16 Notice: this states that they believe the property an HMO that requires a license and there are reports of hazards present and remedial action needs to be taken to protect the safety and wellbeing of the tenants.

    This is based on the back of the conversation we had where i confirmed we had 3 tenants, he was more than welcome to come over unannounced at the property and that there were absolutley no hazards present.

    Could you advise if this is normal practice and whether i should be appealing this. The request for information seems extrememly excessive.

    The councils policy says they would always normally carry out a consultation before issuing any kind of notices - https://www.hounslow.gov.uk/download...rcement_policy.

    Any help or advice either way would really help as we feel we are being bullied into this as we dont understand what the procedure is and more importantly why we are being asked for all this information - especially as no one has been out to see the house.

    Thanks in advance.

    #2
    It sounds to me as though they have received intelligence that you are running an illegal HMO.

    Item 2 sounds like it will only cost you a few pounds for printing or copying.

    I can't identify which Local Government Act for item 3, but I imagine that is so if they do find you are running an illegal HMO, you have no defence if you haven't rectified the defects.

    Most defects that would be breaches of licensing are breaches of the law, even if licensing isn't allowed, and many would be so, even if it wasn't an HMO.

    I imagine getting documents is cheaper than actually doing a surprise visit on the house.

    Comment


      #3
      Yes - I think an old aggrieved tenant (an estate agent!) has submitted a form on the council website.

      In terms of defects - they haven't actually told me what they are; they haven't been round to have a look if they are there or not - it just seems really excessive as they based on something that has not been substantiated.

      If the officer came round i explained he would quite clearly see you cannot rent this property out to more than 3 people.

      We have all the documents required and have nothing to hide in them coming out for an inspection - i just feel that the policy states that "In most cases, we will issue a consultation letter prior to serving statutory notices." and they have completed bypassed this and served us with notices based on no evidence.

      Comment


        #4
        Except where they have additional licensing, so you would have to have a licence, councils don't have the resources to be proactive in enforcement, so it is inevitable that they will concentrate their efforts where there are complaints. A lot of things are "intelligence led" these days.

        My council reckons there are many more undeclared licensable HMOs than licensed ones, which will also factor into their decision to follow up on intelligence suggesting a licence breach.

        Comment


          #5
          1 is pretty standard
          2 is a bit cheeky, but they can make those demands.
          3 you should reply to with an invitation to come and see the property.


          I think a previous tenant (or hacked off neighbour) has grassed you up and told some porkies.
          Best to cooperate, though.
          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks both of you.

            I totally understand the need to act on intelligence but atm totally unclear as to what the officer has done to substantiate any claim and the reasoning to justify the action of issue of notices as a first resort; when actually their policy says that this would be a done in very few case.

            i think my plan tomorrow is to speak to the team leader as stated in the policy to get an explaination as to how they have substantiated claims of hazards and the property requires a HMO license (esp when his accompany letter 1 states we don’t need one).

            it could well be that they have been round and have some evidence to base this on - which will at least make me feel that we are being treated fairly and Followed standard procedure.

            Ill keep you this thread posted...

            Comment


              #7
              Is it possible that some of your tenants had friends or partners living there without your knowledge? If so then they may have been able to provide the Council with evidence of this and although you wouldnt have created that situation, you would unfortunately suffer the repurcussions.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by DPT57 View Post
                Is it possible that some of your tenants had friends or partners living there without your knowledge? If so then they may have been able to provide the Council with evidence of this and although you wouldnt have created that situation, you would unfortunately suffer the repurcussions.
                This is a worry for many if hot all, HMO landlords. How can a landlord be responsible if they don't know about it? I have a big notice up in my HMO that clearly says rooms are for single occupancy only, but even so a problem T has had his wife come to stay (they've now got a flat).

                Comment


                  #9
                  I imagine it would be a reasonable defence if you carried out frequent inspections, which I believe you have to do as an HMO manager, and documented them.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    S21 would still be a problem though wouldn't it?

                    Comment

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