Camden Council licencing Prosecution – Can they stop sale?

by Readers Question

11:40 AM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

Camden Council licencing Prosecution – Can they stop sale?

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Camden Council licencing Prosecution – Can they stop sale?

QUICK SITUATION REPORT.
I am renting a 4 bed flat as a 5 rooms as the living room has been partitioned to create a room and there is a separate dining room for all.

There is 5 tenants.
1 bathroom WC.
1 Toilet WC.
1 kitchen.

This is where I am in my situation with the Council. My fault as I have not licenced it as I was in the process of selling it. I didn’t tell them that at the time (which was a mistake I now know thinking they would come down on me like a ton of bricks thinking I’m kicking out tenants due to licencing etc). But in reality I simply cannot afford to run this.

Subsequently 3months down the line (1weekago) They did a RAID this the best way of describing it as they literally came in 3-4 of them and started barging into rooms, one of my tenants was in his underpants etc. Anyway they did the usual told the tenants NOT to pay me rent as I’ve not licenced the property etc etc. Now that advice will LOSE me the flat as iIm paying £3.6k a month in payments AND already there is a SUSPENDED POSSESSION order which occurred when the last tenant drove nearly all of the flatmates out of the flat and literally thought he OWNED the flat. He has now left.

The rent being received is £3k.

I have found a buyer who is buying with TENANTS in situ he has met the tenants and is happy etc to keep them on. Now the sale is with LEGALS and a valuation has been booked for this week.

MY CONCERN NOW IS – can the council stop the sale from going through. I have explained to the buyer about my situation – he said he will licence the flat upon completion. I told the council this and they said that they would STILL PROSECUTE ME and to wait for the documents. I asked for an extension which they said I need t o apply for but THAT they would still prosecute me AND FOR ME TO STILL APPLY for a licence.

Please can anyone advise me as to what I should do.

Thank you.

F



Comments

Martin Rdg

15:44 PM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

Speak to your solicitor. Assuming the flat is in good condition it makes me angry when councils do this as so many properties are no better than shxx holes and they should concentrate on those properties - having said that 5 people sharing 1 bathroom is not ideal

Ingrid Bacsa

15:59 PM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

I have no idea. The councils have too much power, make their own rules and do whatever they like.

You could just buy a licence - on line perhaps - and keep writing "sorry I made a mistake , I didnt intend to cheat. "

Send a couple of good character references
In as well and let them know you haven't been getting all the rents .

I hope your buyer will hang in there. Maybe his solicitor could write something to the council - and your GP re the stress they are causing which is upsetting your whole family (due to their anti-social behaviour!)

Licences are quite new and they make the rules up as they go along ! I'm sick of the whole business . You have my deepest sympathies . Best of luck!

Harlequin Garden

16:24 PM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

I've had a lot of dealings with Camden in many departments and I know for sure that they don't move their stumps unless someone is really rattling their cage. I don't know how long you've been running this flat but if Camden wrote to you 3 months ago you have to take some responsibility for this - and I'll put money on someone having made a complaint and kept at if for a long time prior to this. Camden are the laziest council (Lambeth not far behind). If they are after you - someone else is too, like a disgruntled neighbour or even one of the tenants.

You need legal advise now - don't try and do this without, Camden will have an automated legal system for this.

Monty Bodkin

16:40 PM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

I don't think they can stop the sale going through.
But they can prosecute for an unlimited fine, criminal record and a rent repayment order for up to 12 months of the rent.
Buy a license now before they prosecute as it is unlikely you will be classed a fit and proper person afterwards.

Minimum HMO standards here;

http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/stream/asset/Minimum%20HMO%20+%20hostel%20standards%2010%20May%202016.pdf?asset_id=3458214

Ross Tulloch

17:22 PM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

Good comments above. Why not start and apply for the license, making sure that Camden know this, putting your hands up, and try to exchange and complete urgently...If you are working on this with the purchaser it will help the purchaser too. Hopefully you can halt the application before too long. Somewhat depends on how much work there is to do to make it pass (fire alams, doors etc) Room sizes may be a problem too.

Robert Mellors

18:44 PM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

I don't know Camden's rules, but in my area, you wouldn't get a HMO licence as the property does not meet the minimum HMO licence conditions for 5 residents. Even if you have all the correct fire doors, thumb turn locks, fire alarm systems, protected escape route, right sized rooms, etc, and the property meets all other HMO requirements and is in excellent condition throughout, you still won't get a licence as you need to provide at least two toilets if five residents living there (number of people living there, NOT number of rooms, i.e. if one room is let to a couple then that is six residents, so then you have to provide another bathroom, not just an extra toilet).

As you are about to be prosecuted, for a serious breach of HMO regulations, I also imagine that the Council will not grant you a licence as they may not consider you to be a fit and proper person.

I would suggest that you need to sell this property quickly. If you want to carry on running it as a HMO then you would need to reduce down to four residents only (or install an extra toilet or bathroom), and bring the property up to the HMO standards in all other ways. I would suggest that you obtain a copy of the Council's HMO standards (my local council produce a guidance booklet), and study it carefully so that you know what the requirements are for a HMO and for a landlord to obtain a HMO licence.

I don't think the Council could stop you from selling the property, but they can continue to prosecute you. They could also issue a rent repayment order, which basically means that you would have to repay all the rent you have received (repay to the tenants, or to the Housing Benefit Dept), so this could cost you a huge amount (plus you could be fined as well).

You need to get some specialist legal advice, and get it straight away. If your finances are already stretched then you may also need to seek some advice about bankruptcy (and don't forget to include your s24 tax liability, which HMRC won't even ask for until next year, but the liability is already building up).

H B

21:11 PM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

One other thought - it sounds like you have a near 7 figure mortgage on the property. Are you in breach of any of the conditions? A conviction for running an unlicensed HMO might make the mortgage immediately repayable, so again, I would suggest selling quickly.

Ingrid Bacsa

22:38 PM, 9th May 2017
About 2 years ago

5 to one bathroom is the legal limit though (or used to be)

Regards

Kay Landlord

7:03 AM, 10th May 2017
About 2 years ago

Talking of HMO sillyness, I had 3 tenants in a large house in Newham. I had a selective licence the house has 3 toilets, 2 bathrooms and 5 beds Because of the 3 tenants (different names, not family ) they sent me a warning to remove the tenants from the house . I had had the same tenants for 7 years when I had reviewed the Initial regulations, I considered it not to be an HMO because it had less than 3 floors, 1 kitchen and only 3 renters. Newham classed me as running an HMO! They even wrote to my lender! I appreciate your situation is different but I'd try and obtain the correct permission. Councils are just looking to earn extra revenue so u must take legal advice. Would be good if anyone on the forum can recommend specialist HMO Solictors?

Faiza Alia

12:12 PM, 10th May 2017
About 2 years ago

Hello everyone thank you so much for all your help and comments. Yes i'm in serious situation here, The falt itselft is clean and tidy and the rooms are ALL doubles - but yes there is 1 bathroom WC - 1 toilet WC, but a friend also suggested that I can put a SHOWER unit and take out the bath in the toilet which will allow a TOILET to be installed in the bathroom so in effect 2 toilets.. Also yes i'm in breach with lenders hence why i'm selling quickly as I've made arrangements with them and now know that I just cannot afford this to keep this flat which was our family home for 26years. We've only been renting it since 2013. As a HMO for 17months. In anycase what more can I say people YES I've messed up big time. My plan is to sell this and clear up all my debts and just think that maybe one day i'l look back and think how could I I have got myself into this situation in such a mess.

I will inform the lenders that i'm selling this flat - (is this a good idea) as I may struggle to pay the coming months payments. One of the lenders who has a second charge on the flat previously threatened to appoint a LPA RECEIVER when the other non-paying tenant drove all my other tenants out and I was left receiving no rent. I fell into arrears of 2months with them and thus cleared that but now again i'm going to struggle going forward. Lender is Together. Oh gosh what a mess. Thank you all and if someone can recommend a solicitor who is good at dealing with HMO non-licencing cases I would appreciate it. I will apply for the licence today and see about the extension in anycase.

Thank you all.

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