Does a cellar count towards a floor making an HMO?

by Readers Question

12:14 PM, 28th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Does a cellar count towards a floor making an HMO?

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Does a cellar count towards a floor making an HMO?

In a unlicensed HMO I understand that a cellar counts as a story. If however a lock was fitted to the cellar so no access for tenants, would it then be ruled out as a story?cellar

Making just the 2 story/5 tenant or less not requiring licence, or is there some law to saying otherwise. My apologies if this sounds obvious, but I’m just needing a sound opinion.

Many Thanks.

Carl



Comments

Neil Patterson

12:18 PM, 28th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Carl,

I know there is a technical definition of an HMO, but what really matters is what your Local Authority definition is.

Although I don't know the specific answer to your question I would suggest you check anyway with your LA.

Martin Rdg

13:14 PM, 28th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Personally, I would not contact the LA. If you are not going to let the cellar then I would just keep quiet. From the prosecutions that have occurred with regard to unlicensed HMO's are those where the LA have given ample notice to the owners to apply. I have never read of any LA taking a landlord to court without giving the landlord a chance to remedy what is wrong. Just my opinion

Ian Narbeth

17:24 PM, 28th September 2015
About 3 years ago

I disagree with Martin Rdg. Emphatically, you should consult the LA. If you do not and you ought to be licensed you will among other things:

be committing a criminal offence;
probably omit to install a fire alarm system that is mandatory for licensable HMOs;
risk your tenants seeking a rent repayment order; and
potentially invalidate your buildings insurance.

The fact that tenants have no access is not by itself determinative.

Ask the LA and perhaps get a Council Officer to visit. The worst that can happen is they ask you to get licensed.

eileen grace

18:35 PM, 28th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Ian Narbeth's advice seems very sound.

You may find the council will require fire proofing of the basement. Like any fire proofing not only does it assist tenants but reduces your exposure to fire risks. Moreover the costs are tax deductible,

Carl whitlam

19:29 PM, 28th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi all,Thanks for the valuable input.Ive just looked at the housing standards and found this>>Mandatory licensing applies if the HMO (or any part of it):
• comprises three storeys or more;
• is occupied by five or more persons, and
• the HMO is occupied by persons from two or more households.

So if there is only 4 tenants,a licence wont be required,as all above needs to apply to be licenced,rather then one of the 3 above?

Thanks.Carl

Puzzler

20:10 PM, 28th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Carl " at "28/09/2015 - 19:29":

Carl, I think those are the national rules but yes all three need to apply. Individual LAs may well have additional rules so you do need to check.

Joe Bloggs

23:21 PM, 28th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "28/09/2015 - 12:18":

Neil,

carl is referring to mandatory licensing of HMO's as otherwise he wouldnt be asking about storeys.

Mandatory licensing is governed by an act of parliament (The Housing Act 2004) and it is interpretation of the act that really matters rather than the spin LA's may try and impose.

there was a recent case where a storey which only contained an entrance hall was deemed not to be a storey.

furthermore:
Part 7 of section 254 of The Housing Act 2004 defines a house in multiple occupation (HMO) states:
• it is a building consisting of three or more habitable storeys [business premises on the ground or any upper floor should also be counted, although a basement used for business or storage need not be counted (unless it's the only means of access to the HMO from the street)];

eileen grace

11:46 AM, 29th September 2015
About 3 years ago

Landlords do not need litigation for a variety of reasons.
It is far simpler to be compliant.

Jessie Jones

9:14 AM, 3rd October 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "28/09/2015 - 23:21":

So the word 'habitable' would appear to be the defining point. If the cellar has heating and lighting and is free of damp and has adequate head room then it is likely to be regarded as 'habitable' regardless of whether there is a lock on the door or not.
A loft, a garage and a cellar are storage spaces, not living spaces. But any of these can be converted to a living space. If it has been converted, then it is likely to be 'habitable'.

Joe Bloggs

20:20 PM, 3rd October 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jessie Jones" at "03/10/2015 - 09:14":

i suppose habitation has two components, i.e.:
1) the quality/provision and
2) what it is being used for.

if sub standard accommodation is being used as a habitable storey then the LA would insist that it is sealed/locked and not used.

You cant have your cake and eat it; you cant rent out sub standard storey and at same time argue it is sub standard so it does not count as a habitable storey.

if an attic, basement or garage etc storey has been converted to a habitable use then it will count as a storey. such conversion would require building regulation approval. if it does not have approval but is being used for habitation then if it is capable of complying then either the necessary works will be required or it will have to be locked shut so that its not used for habitation.

a dry cellar would not be of habitable standard if for instance it has no window and the thermal insulation fell below that required by building regs at the time of conversion.

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