Tenant Couple with 2 Lodgers - Is this a HMO?

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    #16
    :-) I was going to say 'owner' but I repeated 'landlord' because that was the term OP had used to refer to their landlord. By 'landlord' I was referring to the owner of the house.
    There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

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      #17
      Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post

      Trouble is there are two landlords here:. Which one did you mean ?
      I assume they meant the main landlord/owner of the house as the question I asked was "who is responsible, us or the landlord".

      My next question is, if I go to the council - then am I potentially opening a can of worms? Would it be best to do an anonymous information gathering phone call and then speak to the landlord about any potential short-comings? The landlord is very approachable so I would have no problem high-lighting any shortcomings to them.

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        #18
        doobrey,

        An abrupt ending I could live with but I couldn't live with financial penalties.

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          #19
          It is best to do plenty of research (as you are doing now... and I would say next extend the scope of your research to local authority HMO regs) before taking any further action.

          My view would be that your best option is probably to discuss with your landlord, educate them as required, and bring the current arrangement quietly to an end without the authorities getting involved.
          There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

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            #20
            I've done some research on the local authority but we don't quite fit into any box. Also, it is not clear with the mandatory licensing whether you need to satisfy one or a number of requirements before mandatory licensing is required. For instance, one of the points says if two or more households share a kitchen/bathroom then a license is required but then this would essentially mean any household with 2 x tenants, 1 x tenant/1 x lodger etc. would need a license so it seems a bit of a strict!

            I can email the landlord and say to them that I think it might require a license and that I believe that is their responsibility. If he accepts responsibility then I guess we are in a better position but if he doesn't then it gets complicated.

            We like the house (and the arrangement) so do not want to leave but if we are leaving ourselves at risk then yes it needs to be brought to a quiet end.

            I also don't think he wants to lose us and he has been working under these long before we arrived so I imagine he will just get it licensed if it otherwise means us moving out.

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              #21
              There are two different definitions of an HMO, which can be confusing.

              For council tax purposes, an HMO requires two unconnected people (so two households) in one property.
              For property law (ie. our) purposes, and HMO is three or more people in more than one household.

              There is a specific exemption for a property owner with two lodgers that does not apply here.

              A small HMO does not usually require licensing, but the local authority may require it (most don't).

              But the issue isn't the licence, it's that the property would almost certainly require modification to be legal - and a fire risk assessment (which is mandatory) may raise issues about fire exit routes.
              Who needs to licence it will depend on who creates and manages the property, which I suspect is you - but it might fall to the landlord, on the basis that they agreed the setup and you are probably not in a position to make the property legal.
              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).

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                #22
                Originally posted by Deiseman View Post
                one of the points says if two or more households share a kitchen/bathroom then a license is required but then this would essentially mean any household with 2 x tenants, 1 x tenant/1 x lodger etc. would need a license so it seems a bit of a strict!
                The Housing Act definition of an HMO is more than two people, more than one household. ("the building is occupied by at least three people who constitute more than one household")


                Originally posted by Deiseman View Post
                I also don't think he wants to lose us and he has been working under these long before we arrived so I imagine he will just get it licensed if it otherwise means us moving out.
                Depending on the local authority requirements, making it an HMO might not be possible or practical. Possible implications include C4 planning use, fire doors, inter-connected hard-wired smoke alarms + heat detector, compliant windows, thumb-turn locks, EICR, fire risk assessment, council inspection, cost of licence, requirement to pay council tax....

                There are various 'ifs' and it really depends on the specific situation, but the issues are not trivial.
                There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

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                  #23
                  God, why would anyone bother??

                  I know it's to protect tenants from dangerous overcrowded houses, but this house is none of those things and such over-reaching regulations end up hurting renters as a whole.

                  So is my best bet just to email the landlord and ask them if they have done proper research/contacted the council to ensure that the property does not need to be licensed and that they take responsibility for the licensing in it's entirety? I guess as long as they accept responsibility then the only thing I need to worry about is the being turfed out without proper notice. Would this be correct?

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                    #24
                    jpkeates,

                    On your last point on making it legal - My tenancy agreement explicitly states that I cannot make any modifications to the house.

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                      #25
                      Originally posted by Deiseman View Post
                      God, why would anyone bother??
                      Seems, in my area, that increasingly they don't. :-) HMOs are being dumped like there is no tomorrow.

                      Originally posted by Deiseman View Post
                      I guess as long as they accept responsibility then the only thing I need to worry about is the being turfed out without proper notice. Would this be correct?
                      You shouldn't need to worry about being turfed out without proper notice. If there was any enforcement action against the owner, tenants rights would take priority.

                      I'm not sure about the question of responsibility. If your subtenants had ASTs then you would be a mesne tenant and essentially their landlord and my understanding is that responsibility for HMO compliance would be yours. Since they are lodgers my feeling is not. But not sure. Either wait for a more authoritative answer here or do further research.
                      There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                      Comment


                        #26
                        If there is an Additional Licensing scheme in place that means this HMO is licensable, then it's the HMO Manager that is liable. I think this has to mean the person that has created the situation and is receiving the rent, (which is you the OP). That doesn't necessarily mean that if you failed to pay or moved abroad before the Council could sue you, that they would not then pursue the owner. However, the owner would be sensible in the first instance to refer the Council to you as the liable party and you would have no defence that I can see.

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                          #27
                          My local authority doesn't currently run additional or selective licensing. Does this now mean it may or may not be licensable rather than definitely licensable?

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                            #28
                            IMO the liability here is not the cost of the licence, it's the potential fine for non compliance, compounded by the risk of sudden homelessness for the OP.
                            I know in one London borough they have identified 43,000 properties that should be licensed as HMOs yet only 573 have applied for licences.
                            The point being enforcement is slow and probably not a priority. Discretion might be advised....

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                              #29
                              I found a relevant thread here.

                              https://forums.landlordzone.co.uk/fo...ncy-being-used

                              Based on post #8 I think Deiseman may well be responsible for HMO compliance. If you read the whole thread there is an ongoing discussion on the question of who is responsible, without a very clear conclusion (even from the authorities in that case).

                              This is from the Housing Act 2004, section 263.

                              263 Meaning of “person having control” and “person managing” etc.
                              (1)In this Act “person having control”, in relation to premises, means (unless the context otherwise requires) the person who receives the rack-rent of the premises (whether on his own account or as agent or trustee of another person), or who would so receive it if the premises were let at a rack-rent.
                              (2)In subsection (1) “rack-rent” means a rent which is not less than two-thirds of the full net annual value of the premises.
                              (3)In this Act “person managing” means, in relation to premises, the person who, being an owner or lessee of the premises—
                              (a)receives (whether directly or through an agent or trustee) rents or other payments from—
                              (i)in the case of a house in multiple occupation, persons who are in occupation as tenants or licensees of parts of the premises; and
                              There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                              Comment


                                #30
                                Section20z,

                                I agree, its not the licensing fee I am worried about but any potential fine. No one seems to know who is liable here, but if I can get the landlord to accept responsibility for any licensing issues in writing then can we essentially say case closed?

                                If he doesn't accept it then we are going to have to bring the tenancy to a close.

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