Councils using ‘Intelligence’ to track down low EPC properties and fine £5,00015:08 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago 36
I run a HMO which has recently been visited by an enforcement officer from the London borough after a failed application for a C3 to C4 change of use (based on the fact that the council states Article 4 does not apply to my property on their website.. but apparently it does). I am now applying for a LDC which I should have done in the first place in hindsight and I hope all will be well with that.
Now, onto my question.
Should the LDC be successful and I attain the C4, the enforcement officer stated that the property seemed to him to be self-contained flats and will need to be changed into a C4 (based on 5 of the 6 rooms). The officer stated the following:
– “Cooking Facilities” being present in most of the rooms. In this case, small installed twin hobs. In addition to the main communal kitchen.
– All utilities to be on one supply. I.e. No more than 1 meter per supply for Electric, Gas and Water.
– All drainage and units in the “kitchen” area of the rooms to be removed and replaced with wardrobes and drawers etc.
My problem with this is the following:
– The hobs constitute cooking facilities which are a “part” of what constitutes a kitchen. However, this is a contentious issue and I will happily take these out to satisfy the council on this point as it doesn’t have a huge impact, despite my reservations. This fulfills this requirement.
– The utility issue is problematic for me as although the gas and water are on one supply paid for by me, the electricity is split between the 6 rooms and a landlord supply for communal areas. This helps keep the billing fair as otherwise tenants will abuse this especially in winter as all heaters are electric. It also helps for safety reasons as there is a 3 phase supply which is partitioned between all rooms rather than one big supply which could fail, thereby leaving the entire property without power. I also do not see any statute or policy which states that this is the case despite the officer stating so.
– The final point is what constitutes a kitchen. After I take out the “Cooking Facilities” which I have seen thrown around as the defining factor between HMOs and Self-Contained flats, there ceases to be a “kitchen”. If there is no kitchen in the room, then it can stay in its current form. Currently, 5 of the 6 rooms have a worktop, sink, and freestanding units you would find in rooms anyway such as a fridge (and a washing machine). The worktop doubles up as a desk and there are units which tenants use for storage. The cooker and hobs will only be in the main kitchen.
I would love to hear from anyone with any information on this and whether it would be worth disputing the officer’s view as I don’t currently believe they are correct, especially in the absence of any policy wordings or proof that this is the case.
Thank you in advance.
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