HMO - no idea until today!

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    HMO - no idea until today!

    Ok. I realise somewhere along the line I should have been paying more attention but the fact is I had no idea my flat needed an additional HMO licence. It's a 4 bed flat in Camden, let to students. It has always been let on a joint tenancy. Apparently the rules changed in 2020 and anything over 3 beds is an HMO (even under a joint tenancy agreement?)

    I would like to know what I have to do now? Thankfully the flat was once an HMO so there are inbuilt smoke alarms and emergency lights but I am very anxious about applying for an HMO licence when I should have done it before.

    In addition, I am in the middle of applying for a new mortgage with Virgin. Will the an "additional HMO" licence affect the eligibility?


    #2
    I had similar thing in Hackney a few years ago, there it's not even 3 beds but 3 unrelated tenants and I applied late, but they are so understaffed they still haven't issued my licence despite taking my £1000 two years ago , so you probably don't need to worry about penalties if you just follow all the regs and apply now.
    pretty sure some lenders don't like HMO's but have no idea about Virgin.

    Comment


      #3
      The property has been an HMO since it first held more than two people in more than one household (so probably since day 1).
      The standard HMO regulations have applied to the property since then; as well as the mortgage compliance and planning obligations.

      There's a fairly long list of requirements for compliance, the most critical being a fire risk assessment and compliance with its recommendations (which usually requires connected and services fire/smoke alarms, emergency lighting and fire retardant doors).

      The change to the law was to remove the requirement for licencing for less than 5 occupants only if the property had three floors (or more) - which is probably not an issue for a flat.
      It's possible that the local authority has licence regulations changed at the same time, or have changed before or since - but they're specific to your area.

      I'd have a look at your mortgage and insurance - because HMOs are reasonably specialist and most standard lending and insurance terms an conditions won't allow the property to be an HMO.
      And, those that do would require it to be properly licensed and have any necessary planning permission.

      You're going to get a lot of conflicting advice about whether you have an HMO or not, because the rules for flats and HMOs are confusing, to say the least.
      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
        Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
        The property has been an HMO since it first held more than two people in more than one household (so probably since day 1).
        The standard HMO regulations have applied to the property since then; as well as the mortgage compliance and planning obligations.
        I don't get this? I thought if you had less than 5 in a household it was not an HMO and that local rules applied. Camden changed the rules to 3 unrelated people in 2020 but I have to say we were not informed! I'm not sure how I should have known. I looked into it when we bought the flat and as we were not an HMO then I didn't look again because I didn't know I had to.

        What do I face with a late application? Is an additional HMO licence - which is what I need treated the same as a mandatory HMO licence with regards to mortgages.

        Comment


          #5
          Any property with three or more people in more than one household is an HMO and subject to HMO regulations.
          That's been the case since 2004.

          Properties with 5 people in more than one household are a Large HMO and have to be licenced (in all of England and Wales).
          There was an additional requirement that the property had three stories, but that ended a while ago.

          Local authorities are allowed to introduce additional licencing schemes, and Camden must have done so.
          It's likely that the local authority licence scheme has requirements on top of the basic regulations (which apply to all HMOs, large or otherwise).

          So, unless you bought the property before 2005, it's probably always been an HMO while three people were living there and any statements that you've made on mortgage or insurance applications have not been correct (and may be, in the case of the mortgage) fraudulent.

          Operating an HMO in Camden without a licence is a criminal offence, and the landlord can have a rent repayment order imposed, which allows tenants to reclaim 12 month's rent.

          The regulations for any HMO are quite comprehensive even without a licence.
          Including (but not limited to):
          • To provide all occupiers with the manager's name, address and telephone number, this information must be clearly displayed within the property
          • To ensure that all fire escapes are clear of any obstacles and that they are kept in good order, to ensure that all fire safety measures are maintained in good working order and that adequate fire safety measures are in place with regards to the design, structural conditions and number of occupiers in the HMO
          • The manager must maintain adequate water supply and drainage to the dwelling
          • The manager must not unreasonably cause the electric and gas supply to be interrupted
          • The manager must provide the electrical and gas inspection certificates within seven days of receiving a request in writing from the local housing authority
          • To ensure that all common parts of the HMO are maintained in good decorative order, and safe and working condition. This includes outbuildings, boundaries and gardens
          • The manager must ensure each unit of living accommodation and its contents are clean before occupiers move in and are maintained in good repair and clean working order throughout the occupation by the tenant
          • The manager must provide adequate facilities to dispose of all waste produced by the property

          Some of these are more onerous than they appear - the "fire safety measures" one probably involves hiring a specialist and doing what they suggest (which will probably involve a higher than "normal" standard of fire resistance in internal doors, a hard-wired routinely serviced fire alarm system, heat-sensitive fire alarms in the kitchen(s) and proper fire escape routes).

          There may be planning implications for an HMO as it is a distinct "type" of property.
          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
            Camden have had an additional HMO licensing scheme since 2015 - it's been illegal since then.

            https://www.londonpropertylicensing....me-comes-force
            "It includes all private rented accommodation shared by three of more people who are not all related "


            At the minimum you will need to provide a gas safety certificate, an EICR and a floor plan.
            You also need to have a documented Fire Risk Assessment.
            https://www.camden.gov.uk/documents/...2020+final.pdf

            There are also a whole load of standards to comply with, e.g., room sizes...
            https://www.camden.gov.uk/documents/...facilities.pdf

            Comment


              #7
              What you do now is apply for a licence and keep your fingers crossed. If your lucky Camden won't ealise and prosecute you and the tenants won't apply for up to 12 months rent back.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Section20z View Post
                I applied late, but they are so understaffed they still haven't issued my licence despite taking my £1000 two years ago , so you probably don't need to worry about penalties if you just follow all the regs and apply now.
                Agreed. You are allowed to operate an HMO once the application is in, and it is likely to take forever to process. So as long as you are compliant and the licence gets approved I would expect you to be OK. Nobody seems likely to carry out an investigation into what the property was used for prior to submission of the application.
                There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Mortgage companies do not define HMOs the same as the govt/council but each lender will have its own definition.

                  For example:

                  "The Mortgage Works consider the following types of property as a HMO
                  • A property occupied by five or more people
                  • A property with five to seven lettable rooms in an area commensurate with multi letting
                  Properties subject to selective licencing are only classified as HMO where at least one of the above conditions are met"

                  [https://www.themortgageworks.co.uk/l...-criteria/hmo]

                  During my recent remortgaging the lenders did not ask for evidence of HMO licences.

                  Comment

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