Accused of HMO by Newham – Help

Accused of HMO by Newham – Help

10:48 AM, 28th June 2017, About 4 years ago 22

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I have a buy to let in Newham and I have a Selective Licence. I rented out my property to a family of 2 and their family friend so that’s 3 tenants in total in May 2017. I included all the names of the tenants in the Tenancy Agreement.

Newham Council Enforcement Team have told me the house is HMO because I included all the names of the tenants and they intend to prosecute me, the prosecution process is now with their legal team not sure what that means. I have tried on numerous occasion to speak with the Enforcement Officer to remedy the situation but she wasn’t willing to listen.

The Enforcement Officer seems adamant she wants to take me to court when I tired to contact her for the next step forward. I am surprised having more than one person on the Tenancy Agreement constitutes to HMO and I am also surprised the attitude of the Enforcement Officer and Newham Council.

My view on Property Licencing Scheme has dramatically changed from this experience. I feel the Property Licence Scheme doesn’t always serve the best interests of Tenants or Landlords.

I wanted to know the best way to deal with Newham Council. They seem to be very unhelpful. I have written an email to Newham Council last week and I am waiting for their reply.

Thanks

John



Comments

by Bob Plumb

16:59 PM, 28th June 2017, About 4 years ago

I hope I have avoided a similar scenario with newham, I dont trust them one bit, i have a property also in newham at first rented to 3 people in a 3 bed property all related so i chose a selective licence. over time they moved in 2 unrelated persons in which my agent chose to ignore (now sacked or will be 11th july) when i found out i chose to issue 2 months notice, I informed newham council what was happening just to cover my back in case something cropped up in that 2 months, and they got real pedantic with me telling me that despite the agent keeping it from me it was my responsibility and its down to me. I politely said my goodbyes.

Newham staff have been known to lie in the past, as i found out an told them so and they didnt deny it.
My advice as already mentioned would be to get good legal advice as i beleive Newham council allegedly have issued the most amount of fines to landlords in England

I intend to ditch that property the first opportunity I get, and be done with Newham council who are most definately hostile to private landlords.

by Bill

11:17 AM, 1st July 2017, About 4 years ago

After putting up with Newham Council for 13 years, I got out. You cannot deal with dictators.

by John Frith

8:11 AM, 2nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

The original poster (John, or is it Kais?) said that the property was licensed. In which case he should have been clearly advised of the requirements to fulfil the license. If he has been so advised, surely there is no mitigating defence?

I am interested to find out if an HMO that does NOT need to be licensed is subject to special requirements, either by national legislation or by local council diktat? Anyone know, or point out the legislation to me?

by Kay Landlord

8:37 AM, 2nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

Would be really interested to know of HMO specialist lawyers as we need good representation and advice with their poor definitions in their documentation. Also I know of a number of landlords who have been refused HMO planning apps. Any good lawyers out there who can help?

by John Frith

9:03 AM, 2nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

I found the answer to my own question. The document "HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION STANDARDS"

http://www.nihe.gov.uk/hmo_standards.pdf

states:

"2.1
These standards shall be applied as minimum requirements to all categories of Houses in Multiple Occupation (as classified below)."

So it doesn't matter if the HMO is licensed or not, it still has to meet the same requirements.

I wonder how many landlords with HMO's that do NOT require a license are unaware of their responsibities?

by Kais Malique

14:13 PM, 2nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

The Council seems to change their story which is now frustrating I plan to fight this and I will be taking legal advice. I am beginning to think the Council don't know what they are doing or even have proper procedure or guidelines.

The Enforcement Officer and her Manager seem to give different stories to why it is HMO when I challenge them.

Now the Council is now saying the House was HMO for the past 2 years when the previous Letting Agent whom I sacked in May was managing the House. I decided to keep hold of one tenant and her young daughter as they had no deposit for a flat and she had other personal issues and I decided to help.

She approached me to take the house and her mother would also move in with her and a family friend. This is when I gave them a new Tenancy Agreement. The Council was referring to this particular tenant to have stayed for two years.

I did inspect the house when the Letting Agent was managing the House but there was never any suspicion of subletting going on. I served section 21 notice to the agent as he failed to manage the house properly.

This whole experience has not been pleasant especially the behaviour of Newham Council but it leads me to think we as Landlords have no one strong voice to take on the Council and the Council know this hence their appalling behaviour.

Newham Council is trying to Renew their Licencing Scheme for the next 5 years and I hope the Government imposes restrictions on them as they have done for other Councils.

by John Frith

15:10 PM, 2nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

John, my understanding is that an HMO is defined by the government. Read this government page and then decide if it applies to you.

https://www.gov.uk/renting-out-a-property/houses-in-multiple-occupation-hmo

by Jill Coyne

17:01 PM, 3rd July 2017, About 4 years ago

I'm not sure, but I think a nanny or live-in au pair counts as the same family.
You've probably understood by now that for a selective license everyone has to be in some way related to each other, otherwise you can only have two unrelated people living there. You yourself can live there and have two unrelated people staying with you and as many of your own family as you like. But if you're not living there yourself you can only let to two people if they are unrelated. If a third person is not related to the others, you have two households and should have Additional HMO license. Newham will have given you a maximum number of people ( of one household/ all related) that you can have staying there with your selective license.
In my opinion it's an exceedingly stupid law and has made good properties unlettable for three or four unrelated sharers, as families with only one parent working can't afford them and unrelated sharers who can afford them, aren't allowed to rent them.

by Colin McNulty

7:29 AM, 17th July 2017, About 4 years ago

IANAL, my advice is worth what you paid for it etc etc.

IMO this house IS a HMO. As linked to above the definition of a HMO is quite clear: https://www.gov.uk/renting-out-a-property/houses-in-multiple-occupation-hmo

> Your property is an HMO if both of the following apply:
> at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than one household
> toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities are shared

By that definition the house is a HMO.

However people are confusing that simple issue with one of licensing. Licensing is irrelevant to the question of whether this property is a HMO or not. Whether it should have a HMO license or selective license is a totally different question, which is very simple, again from the link above:

> An HMO must have a licence if it is both:
> 3 or more storeys high
> occupied by 5 or more people

By that definition, your HMO does not need a HMO license.

(John, just because you don't need a license, doesn't absolve you from the requirement to comply with ALL the regulations pertinent to HMOs, e.g. fire doors, linked smoke alarms and sounders, emergency lighting, protected escape routes etc etc. Needing a license is irrelevant to your obligations.)

So back to the question in hand, what *exactly* are they prosecuting you for?

by Jill Coyne

7:46 AM, 17th July 2017, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John " at "02/07/2017 - 14:13":

Why is licensing irrelevant? There are three types of licence in Newham
-Selective license(family)
-Additional HMO license (3 or more unrelated sharers in two storey house)
-HMO license (mandatory for 3 storeys etc)

In Newham you have to get planning permission to change the use from family to HMO but they'd probably never let you do that anyway. regardless of what license the council issues you. They might agree to an HMO but then you'd have wasted your money because you wouldn't get planning permission so you'd have to then pay for a selective one. But I believe the licensing dept is actually informing people now that there's no point in going for an HMO license due to no planning permission possible.
However, if you have let to a group of sharers for 10 yrs (before licensing came in) in you'd automatically be granted an HMO license. or an Additional HMO license.


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