Does an Airbnb room count towards an HMO?

by Readers Question

16:14 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Does an Airbnb room count towards an HMO?

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Does an Airbnb room count towards an HMO?

The definition of HMO (Housing Act 2004) includes “occupied by three or more unrelated persons” and “(d) the living accommodation is occupied by those persons as their only or main residence or they are to be treated as so occupying it (see section 259)”.advice

My question is this: does a room occupied by any person for a short stay (only a few days or weeks at a time) count as one of the HMO rooms, when it clearly is not their “only or main residence”?

Example 1: a 3-bed house has two sharers, plus a 3rd room offered on Airbnb for short stays. Only two of them call the house their “only or main residence”, so is it an HMO?

Example 2: a 5-bed, 3-storey house has four sharers as “only and main residence” so this would be an HMO but not mandatorily licensable. If the 5th room is offered on Airbnb for short stays, would this trigger the mandatory licensing?

Many thanks

Richard



Comments

Neil Patterson

16:15 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Maybe an obvious question Richard, but have you put a hypothetical question to the Council?

Richard Peeters

17:12 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Neil, yes I did, and they refused to discuss hypotheticals. They needed details and would then pass judgement, case by case. My aim is to establish the principle, in case I want to use this idea on more than one property. I don't see why that should be so difficult for them.

Sean Graveney

17:48 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

I suspect it's the 'or they are to be treated as so occupying it' part that would be more pertinent.

From memory of sharing in my student days I'd be inclined to find a new HMO if the one I was living in had a steady stream of strangers staying there week by week, but then I don't live in a HMO so can't really say.

Richard Peeters

17:55 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Thanks Sean, although we do have student HMOs, this one isn't, and I wouldn't mix Airbnb visitors with students in the one house.

Section 259 says:
---
(2) A person is to be treated as so occupying a building or part of a building if it is occupied by the person—
(a) as the person’s residence for the purpose of undertaking a full-time course of further or higher education;
(b) as a refuge, or
(c) in any other circumstances which are circumstances of a description specified for the purposes of this section in regulations made by the appropriate national authority.
---
So for para (c), what national regulation applies for the local authority to interpret / enforce?

Sean Graveney

18:09 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

That's fair enough - I'm aware that not all HMOs are the same and it may be suited to somewhere there is less of a communal feel to the house.

Thanks for that clarification. I can't see any contradiction but obviously I couldn't say with any certainty.

Richard Peeters

18:25 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

I do see what you mean Sean. We have been running an ensuite bedroom as an Airbnb experiment for a couple of months now, in a HMO of workers who have arrived at different dates through the year, and have totally different working and social habits. Your point is also the one negative feedback we've had from the other sharers in the house. Even though they themselves don't seem to interact much, they do notice the "others" who have even shorter stays than theirs. We'll continue to watch this.

Joel Davis

18:32 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Airbnb was founded in 2008. The Housing Act 2004 was passed in 2004. Parliament could not possibly have had Airbnb in mind when they were legislating.

Richard Peeters

18:42 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Joel, it doesn't have to specifically be Airbnb ... the point is about a short-stay visitor who does not think of this room as his/her "only or main residence".

The discussion could just as easily be about renting out one of the rooms as an office, whether to another of the occupants already there, or an outsider" [as an aside: actually we did something like that in another HMO last year, when one of our tenants wanted an extra room so he could "work from home" with more space, but didn't want to wait for a bigger room to come available.]

Anne Ratnarajah

11:00 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

You might need to run it past your mortgage lender as well, as they may have certain criteria and rules that apply. Also, if it is used as serviced accommodation, most councils require a change of use from C3 to C1

Mandy Thomson

16:25 PM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Assuming the whole property is only used for short term occupants, I too fail to see how it would fall under HMO licensing criteria. My understanding is that under The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006, an HMO must be the occupiers' main home OR the HMO is accommodation provided by their employer (in the case of migrant or short term workers).

Where planning (a separate matter from licensing) is concerned, properties in Greater London (for example) that are let short term for more than 3 months in a year must be changed from C3 (private dwelling(s) to C1 (hotel, boarding house or guest house).

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