Best way to structure three sharers contact?

by Readers Question

13:03 PM, 8th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Best way to structure three sharers contact?

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Best way to structure three sharers contact?

I have just refurbished my first 3 bed house bought on BTL mortgage. The property is, in Croydon (Article 4 area) a prospective tenant has just approach me wanting to rent it with 2 other friends.

Best way to structure three sharers contact

Do I sign AST just with him, or joint AST with 3 people.

As an “inexperienced” landlord, renting a property on room by room basis would breach the terms of my BTL mortgage.

If I don’t let it out to one family as a single let, what are my options?

Do I need to inform my council, if there are 3 unrelated people (they will be sharing the bills,) living in my property? Croydon council is very restrictive!

Do I need to inform the insurance company?

It is my first rental property and hearing about the nightmares people had, signing guaranteed rent contracts with the agents, I don’t want to choose that route.

Thank you in advance for all constructive feed back.

Regards

Iwona



Comments

Iwona Kowalska

12:20 PM, 9th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jill Coyne" at "09/12/2014 - 11:59":

Thank you Jill. I have spoken to various council officials, been on their website and could see that this is a grey area.
Under C3(c) use as a dwelling - it is permitted to 3-6 unrelated individuals to share provided they are connected ( like a religious group), therefore no change to C4 required. I'm wondering whether my tenants would fall under "related by association", as they are friends wanting to rent the whole house together on joint AST. I don't see how this could be classed as HMO (C4 use), as they would share all bills.
So would the change of use to C4 be required ( not so sure).
The house was a family home previously.
To find out anything specific from the council I would need to make a 15 min appointment ( a fee paying service), which is fine , provided I am sure I need to launch an application.

-

Mark Alexander

12:57 PM, 9th December 2014
About 5 years ago

I have invited Mandy Thomson to comment on this thread as she seems to know more than most about licensing in the Croydon area - see Mandy's thread on this subject >>>http://www.property118.com/croydon-yet-another-area-introduce-selective-licensing/66774/
.

Mandy Thomson

14:59 PM, 9th December 2014
About 5 years ago

As far as I'm aware, Croydon's article 4 direction is for change of use from office accommodation to private residential accommodation within the Opportunity area http://www.croydon.gov.uk/planningandregeneration/make-application/article4 and has nothing to do with the proposed selective licensing scheme.

Croydon has been operating an additional licensing scheme for HMOs since 2010 - as far as I can see, all but 4 wards are affected http://www.croydon.gov.uk/contents/departments/housing/pdf/dahmol.pdf.

For a rented property to be counted as an HMO (whether a "normal" HMO or small HMO under additional licensing), it has to be occupied by 3 or more HOUSEHOLDS - their legal status as occupiers DOES NOT count - they can be live in landlord and 2 or more lodgers, joint tenants under one AST or joint tenants under individual ASTs, it doesn't matter (there is naturally a lot of confusion around occupiers' legal status and HMO definition).

What DOES determine whether the property is an HMO is the relationship of the occupiers to each other - therefore, 3 friends who are completely unrelated to each other and don't comprise one couple living together as married (whether they are are married or not) would be defined as 3 separate households and would make the property an HMO for additional licensing purposes. 1 friend living with his or her 2 other friends, who were a couple or were related to each other (even if only as cousins) would only count as 2 households and therefore it wouldn't be classed as an HMO http://www.nationalhmonetwork.com/definition-household.php.

Hope this helps!

Iwona Kowalska

15:50 PM, 9th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "09/12/2014 - 14:59":

Thank you Mandy. The definition is very clear, however, after spending a whole morning on a phone to Croydon Council,( various sections), I'm even more in a dark.
I was told by a planning section that I don't need to apply for a change of use from C3 to C4 (HMO) as they would be sharers. If I want to be in a clear I should apply (at a cost of £86) for a permitted Development Crtf.
I was also told that as they are on joint AST , sharing all the bills and related by "association", they are not HMO. According to info you have attached- they are.

Mandy Thomson

16:44 PM, 9th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Iwona Kowalska" at "09/12/2014 - 15:50":

Hi Iwona

As I've said, there's an awful lot of confusion about HMOs, as there is more than one definition for different purposes.

I've spoken to council staff over the phone in the past, and on at least one occasion was given information that was incorrect, and moreover the official giving it wasn't afraid to allow his own judgement to inform his conclusion (I was enquiring about letting a flat to a relative and that person's entitled to housing benefit for that purpose). In short, I wouldn't trust the information you get from council staff unless you know for a fact that the person giving it is an expert in that field.

Even where licensing schemes are concerned, there've been instances of various councils trying to impose their own rules that run contrary to housing law!

Joe Bloggs

21:24 PM, 9th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jill Coyne" at "09/12/2014 - 11:59":

hi jill,
i dont think this time limit (10 years) or any other applies as these are in respect of/ run from breaches of planning permission. what we are talking about here is not a breach but a pre-existing lawful use (existing prior to the introduction of the article 4 direction).

Jill Coyne

23:14 PM, 9th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "09/12/2014 - 21:24":

Im not really sure what you mean- but I have a spacious 4bed property in newham- (pretty awful council to deal with. Croydon sounds better). I'd been letting it for 10yrs - 8yrs to 3 /4 young professionals sharing on joint ast. Until I agreed to have a family who unfortunately were there when licensing was introduced. So I couldn't get an additional hmo licence as council said it wasn't applicable to a family- had it not been for that break I could have got planning permission for an additional hmo. Worst of it is that when I move back in I cant even share with more than two people unless they are my own family. Newham council don't reply to my emails. I can't even get an appointment with planning- cost of applying appealing etc is in the thousands & with no possibility of a good outcome there's no point. However licensing were happy to grant me an additional for £600, even tho I'd never get planning- a planning duty officer said no one's ever won an appeal. Beurocrats.

Joe Bloggs

0:23 AM, 10th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jill Coyne" at "09/12/2014 - 23:14":

im a LL in Newham and they are terrible.

i think you posted all that before some months ago.

the reason you havent got an established use is because you were renting to a family when the article 4 came in. it has nothing to do with the 10 year min period you mentioned in your earlier post. had it been 3 plus sharers instead of family in occupation at that time you would have legitimate small hmo.

Iwona Kowalska

8:37 AM, 10th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "09/12/2014 - 16:44":

You are right Mandy about council officials giving me different info. I will try to speak or write to the licensing dept . It almost seems that I will be needing an HMO license, should I chose 3 shareres , for a C3 use, which is not an HMO.
In that case having obtained a license, would I need to comply with HMO regulations i.e. fire doors? I have only redecorated a 3 bed house, not converted or developed it in anyway, nor do I intend to. The rooms that the license describes and is issued for (on number of rooms basis), are not single units like bedsits or studios.

Mandy Thomson

10:16 AM, 10th December 2014
About 5 years ago

Hi Iwona,

I have no experience of letting any kind of HMO, however, from what I can ascertain for an HMO subject to ADDITIONAL licensing, you wouldn't have to do much more to the property than a landlord letting a regular family home - installing smoke alarms is a requirement, as is vouching for the safety of the wiring and electricals - in practise, this would mean getting a safety inspection. See pages 12 and 13 of this government booklet about letting HMOs https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/15652/HMO_Lic_landlords_guide.pdf.

HOWEVER, as I've stated above, I'm not an HMO landlord - perhaps someone who has let a small HMO could clarify what I've said?

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