257 HMO - dependent on communal entrance?

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    257 HMO - dependent on communal entrance?

    Hi,

    I wonder if someone with more experience than me maybe able to help answer a 257 HMO question?

    I own a flat in a share of freehold building. The building was originally 2 separate semi-detached houses which has been converted into 9 self-contained flats. There are two communal entrances, one for each of the original semi-detached houses, which each serve 4 flats and 1 flat with its own separate entrance. On one side of the building 2 flats are let and 2 owner occupied. On the other side all are owner occupied. The flat with its own entrance is also owner occupied. The conversion was done in the 1950's and its pretty clear we don't meet the 1991 Building Regs.

    My council HMO department claims that because the 4 flats (50% owner occupied) share a communal entrance and the entrance cannot be used to enter any of the other flats then the 1 side of the building would be a 257 HMO. They are using the definition of "dwelling" in the 2004 Housing Act to back up this thinking along with the definition of a 257 HMO saying "part of a building".

    My question is, does half of the building which is 50% owner occupied meet the definition of a 257 HMO? Or would the 2/3 owner occupier condition be across all flats (i.e. 2 divided by 9)?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.


    #2
    In terms of what the legislation is trying to achieve, treating each half separately would make sense, assuming that the original separation between the two buildings has been retained. I would go with the council on this one.

    Comment


      #3
      Note. I wouldn't say the communal entrance, itself is the test. This is about the fire partitioning of the building, and how the residents are likely to behave, mainly in terms of maintaining fire safety, but also whether they know the neighbours well enough to care for the safety in an emergency.

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you leaseholder64.

        Yes, I agree with the Council and yourself. The legislation makes sense to me also.

        Its a Victorian 4 storey building with few fire safety features in place.

        The other flat owners are not convinced the council and myself are correct - I aim to share the link to this post!

        Comment


          #5
          I am not following this at all. Surely every small purpose-built block of flats in the whole country with a common entrance door would then be an HMO. Or two entrances to the same block with no access between the common parts. ????

          Someone map this out for me..

          Comment


            #6
            Its called a section 257 HMO (defined in 2004 Housing Act). It covers converted blocks of flats where the conversion did not meet the 1991 Building Regs (and still doesn't) and less than 2/3rds of flats are owner occupied.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Advicee View Post
              Its called a section 257 HMO (defined in 2004 Housing Act). It covers converted blocks of flats where the conversion did not meet the 1991 Building Regs (and still doesn't) and less than 2/3rds of flats are owner occupied.
              OK -- that sounds like some more dumb ill considered legislation then. So someone who bought a perfectly normal flat to live in themselves, suddenly becomes part of an HMO (with all that this entails - some sensible and some ludicrous) based entirely on the completely separate activities of perhaps just one or two neighbours. And all this is done without any parallel legislation to compel a flat owner to even inform anyone who or what lives in their flat - so how are freeholders or other owners even able to know.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post

                OK -- that sounds like some more dumb ill considered legislation then. So someone who bought a perfectly normal flat to live in themselves, suddenly becomes part of an HMO (with all that this entails - some sensible and some ludicrous) based entirely on the completely separate activities of perhaps just one or two neighbours. And all this is done without any parallel legislation to compel a flat owner to even inform anyone who or what lives in their flat - so how are freeholders or other owners even able to know.
                That is exactly the situation I find myself in - another owner has let their flat potentially tipping us into the 257 HMO category. The lease doesn't place any bans on letting, and neither should it, but through no fault of my own I may have to stump up many hundreds if not thousands to contribute to the necessary changes (either to meet 1991 Building Regs or Fire Safety Regs) as there is little money in communal funds.

                The law kinda makes sense buts its buyer beware. The law is basically saying that if the building isn't up-to 1991 Building Standards and more than 1/3 flats are tenanted, then you need to improve the fire safety of the building. Most councils don't require licensing of 257 HMO's but they can & some do.

                Comment


                  #9
                  As, I think, already pointed out, the S257 ruling doesn't make much difference to fire safety costs, as complying with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order will have a similar result.

                  You shouldn't have large amounts in the communal funds unless (the lease allows a reserve/sinking fund and) the money is already earmarked for specific purposes.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    You dont have to make it building regs compliant. It's mainly about fire safety. I have a couple of s257 HMOs and the only communal space is a 1m sq entrance lobby. I just had to consider the fire resistance of the 2 inner doors and the electrical consumer unit that was located there. You should be able to share any cost with the other landlord.

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