Do I have an HMO ? Has the definition changed Oct 1

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    Do I have an HMO ? Has the definition changed Oct 1

    Hi there,

    apologies if this question or similar has come up before

    I'm still trying to get my head around how an HMO is strictly defined. This seems to have changed anyway.

    I have a terraced building divided into three units.

    Each has their OWN completely separate facilities, as in, bathroom/s, kitchen, living areas, that are NOT shared between the different units
    Each has separate gas and electricity supplies and meters

    Two are one bedroom flats, one of which I occupy (as owner of whole building)
    One is a three bedroom flat.

    The building has four storeys

    My previous understanding (as advised by a planner) was that this IS NOT an HMO, since the definition of an HMO is multiple households *sharing facitilies* (kitchens/bathrooms?)

    I had thought this is NOT an HMO because each household has their OWN separate facilities

    Is this correct?
    Or has the definition of an HMO changed ?
    Thanks if you can help


    #2
    It may be a section 257 HMO, if it is not compliant with 1991 or later building regulations, as it appears to be less than two thirds owner occupied, and your description suggests it was not purpose built.

    Either way, you need a fire risk assessment for the communal areas.

    Comment


      #3
      If the three bedroom flat has three unrelated people living in it, that would be an HMO on its own.
      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


        #4
        Thank your for you responses. With regard to this last point that 'if it's a three bedroom flat it's an HMO' -
        doesn't that mean that just about any flat rented to sharers (other than one family) anywhere is an HMO ?
        Can the category really be that big?

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you for your point about fire risk assessment - can i ask if that is something that can be done entirely via a private company, or does it involve the council, to the extent that the results have to be in some way referred to them?
          Thank you in advance

          Comment


            #6
            Since 2006, fire risk assessments are no longer offered by the State. The role of the council is enforcement. Hopefully, if you show them a risk assessment by an obviously competent person, and evidence that you have implemented its recommendations, the council should be happy (The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force in 2006.)

            A flat in multiple occupation makes the the flat an HMO, but not necessarily the block. Three sharers constitutes an HMO, although the risk assessment will differ depending on whether they are, say three students, on the same course, or three people who clubbed together solely to afford the rent.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by inthelandlordzone View Post
              Thank your for you responses. With regard to this last point that 'if it's a three bedroom flat it's an HMO' -
              doesn't that mean that just about any flat rented to sharers (other than one family) anywhere is an HMO ?
              Can the category really be that big?
              In my residential mortgage, paying lodgers are limited to two and in my understanding the definition of an HMO is 4 people (including a resident landlord), so with three paying sharers it would be an unlicensed House of Multiple Occupation. I understand if it was less than 3 storeys it would not have required an HMO license, issued by a local council. The law regards mandatory licensing of an HMO changed recently & now licensing extends to buildings of less than three storeys shared, by 4 or more people paying rent with certain exclusions. In addition, certain building developments including mixture of leasehold and rented flats now attract mandatory licensing.

              I found this interesting report, outlined as part of a council consultation on new legislation, detailing local housing concerns:

              https://www.hastings.gov.uk/content/...PowerPoint.pdf


              Comment


                #8
                The OPs building may be a s257 HMO but the individual flats may or may not be HMOs. If there is a resident landlord in a flat our house, (regardless of the number of storeys as of 1 oct), then they can have up to 2 lodgers before it becomes an HMO. Without a resident landlord, 3 people in 2 or more households constitutes an HMO, albeit not mandatory licensable. Councils can only impose licensing on such properties, or on s257 HMOs if they introduce an Additional Licensing scheme into that area.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by J Brown View Post

                  In my residential mortgage, paying lodgers are limited to two and in my understanding the definition of an HMO is 4 people (including a resident landlord), so with three paying sharers it would be an unlicensed House of Multiple Occupation. I understand if it was less than 3 storeys it would not have required an HMO license, issued by a local council. The law regards mandatory licensing of an HMO changed recently & now licensing extends to buildings of less than three storeys shared, by 4 or more people paying rent with certain exclusions. In addition, certain building developments including mixture of leasehold and rented flats now attract mandatory licensing.
                  'by 4 or more people paying rent with certain exclusions' - sorry, this should read FIVE or more people...

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Three or more make an HMO, which could be licensable if the council has Additional Licensing. Five or more now always requires licensing. As already noted, a genuine arrangement where a primary occupier has two lodgers as licensees is exempted.

                    The reason for the limits on numbers is that HMO residents will generally only look after themselves in an emergency. It is also likely that one might be sleeping whilst is doing a high fire risk activity. Three is quite enough for this to be an issue.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks again for all you useful responses,
                      Just one other point, i don't know if this complicates things -

                      I have an application for a retrospective planning based on established use going in, to sort out the fact that they are separate units

                      This has involved creating an architectural plan, finding evidence of four years established use (bills, affidavits etc), and i ve also (hopefully) completed all work to meet building regs (fire doors, mains power, emergency lighting, fire proof partitions etc etc)

                      If i receive this retrospective established use consent, does that mean that each unit is like a separate flat visa vi planning, so therefore the definition with regard to the whole building has changed? and then only one flat, the three bed, becomes potentially an HMO ?

                      It's all getting massively complex, i'm behind the curve, and this is involving me with a multiplicity of different departments !

                      Thanks for any views on how this affects things. For a start, i think it's eight weeks wait for the established use proposal (if it comes through positively), meanwhile i presumably have to pursue an HMO licence anyway in the meantime, as i'm late for that as well

                      Thanks

                      Comment


                        #12
                        De facto change of use normally requires ten, rather than four years.

                        Any flat capable of having three people without being legally overcrowded is a potential (legal) HMO.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          thanks again for your responses.

                          I find that when I look into these matters and seek advice, I always receive large amounts of novel, sometimes contradictory, (for me) previous unheard of information,

                          For example, i have employed a full time planning advisor to prepare my certificate of lawful use application, and have widely sought advice from a range of professionals including solicitors, but have never ever heard of this ten year rule before, yet i find it hard to believe that professionals working in and specialising in legal and planning advice and certificate of lawful use and related fields would never have heard of this.
                          There are numerous other areas where I find I'm continually hearing novel, unusual or previously unheard of and sometimes contradictory advice.
                          For example, a solicitor specialising in landlord law and planning for whom i paid for advice has told me that I do not have a HMO, yet all the respondents here state that I probably do, and have further introduced the idea that a three bedroom flat in itself can be considered an HMO.

                          Do please understand that I'm not saying this to be rude, or in any way to doubt any statement kindly provided here. I'm very grateful for your views.
                          I'm merely expressing some exasperation and confusion that i'm feeling at this point, on hearing (to me) new information which is at variance to advice I've paid for from professionals including planning consultants and solicitors.

                          I could expand on this theme, since the apparent confusion absolutely is not confined to information and responses offered here, and neither has it been confined to these subjects (for example, a series of professionals have supplied me with different and contradictory information regarding when and how building regs can be signed off and certified).

                          It just amazes me that professional consultants and lawyers in the field express so many varied and different views

                          I guess ultimately i just have to make my best shot to comply in all areas, and take it to the relevant authorities.

                          Thank you again for your replies, which I'm sure are offered in good faith and based mostly on experience

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Professional advisors would normally have insurance in order to protect them from the consequences of giving advice that turned out to be wrong.
                            People posting on a forum don't, and aren't in a position to offer advice, just share experiences and opinions.

                            To be honest, advice given often depends on the question(s) asked. As an example - if you ask someone if your property/properties comprise a single HMO, I suspect the answer might be "no" (it's not something I know enough about to comment).

                            But, when you point out that one flat can have three separate occupants, it's quite a common issue for landlords and we might raise it, where a specialist might not. So the responses are different, but both right.

                            As a general rule, the value of advice probably depends on how much you pay for it. And this forum is free.

                            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


                              #15
                              https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ensuring...rcement-action

                              Comment

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