Has this Oxford tenant fallen foul of HMO legislation?

Has this Oxford tenant fallen foul of HMO legislation?

11:47 AM, 30th November 2012, About 11 years ago 7

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Oxford HMO licensingI have just received an email from an Oxford based tenant who may have fallen foul of HMO regulations.

I’m not sure how to answer his questions so I have posted his email below. Just in case you don’t know, selective licencing in Oxford renders a property with three or more unrelated tenants liable for HMO licensing.  What is a tenant sublets though, who’s responsible then?

I would very much appreciate your feedback on this


“Dear Mark,

I have a problem I hope you may be able to help me with.

I rent a house in Oxford from a private landlord, I have been here for 5 years, my name is on the tenancy agreement, I have had other people living here, that landlord knows this but if pushed would say he doesn’t.

I have been contacted by the local Council HMO team who want to inspect the property.

My question/dilemma is this,

The people who live here with me are always from overseas, and only stay a maximum of six months, sometimes on a Monday-Thursday/Friday basis, this not their main residence and I have documents from their schools and colleges that confirm this, am I correct in assuming that because of this HMO rules do not apply.

The 2 floors of the house have fire extinguishers, the stairs have a smoke alarm with emergency light, all other rooms with the exception of the bathroom have wireless connected smoke alarms, and there is a carbon monoxide monitor next to the boiler.

With regards,


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16:45 PM, 30th November 2012, About 11 years ago

hi David
your landlord is running an unlicensed HMO even though you are dealing with the tenants. The HMO department will go over this house with a fine tooth comb (Rightly so) and will enter is a discussion with him not yourselve.


Alan Wetherall

HMO Landord

17:55 PM, 30th November 2012, About 11 years ago

This may or may not actually be an HMO issue. It depends on the specifics of Oxford City Council's HMO policy. I understand that Oxford City Council has introduced an Article 4 Direction, which further complicates matters. It will depend on the number of occupants (which must be 3 or more to qualify as any sort of HMO anyway), the number of storeys (you state there are 2 floors, so it will not be a licensable HMO unless OCC have brought in additional licensing) and the nature of the tenure of the occupants.

Also, the fact that your landlord has a tenancy with only you may mean that YOU are in breach of HMO legislation, not your landlord. OCC will probably take it up with your landlord, but he may simply come back to you and ask you to stop using the property in such a way that breaches HMO legislation.

The National Landlords Association's local representative for Oxford is David Kybett. He's a good guy and knows his stuff. Try asking the NLA to put you in touch with David Kybett.

Michael Holmes

20:41 PM, 30th November 2012, About 11 years ago

As things stand, the landlord is the person who is responsible for applying for HMO status. If you only have 2 stories in the building, then it is unlikely that he will need a HMO licence unless the local Council has made this an article 4 requirement. As a tenant, you should pass the Council's request onto your landlord, since he is the person who will be liable for any action that they may take, not you. It is probably a good idea if you both get your stories straight before contacting the Council again, but in the interim, I would pass this request for inspection onto your landlord and let him deal with it. You are under no obligation to let them view the property and in fact if they force the issue, you can sue them for harassment.
A longstanding HMO landlord

Joe Bloggs

10:38 AM, 1st December 2012, About 11 years ago

you might be a 'longstanding hmo landlord', but you are woefully not up to speed. we are not talking about mandatory licensing so the number of storeys is irrelevant! AND article 4 directions are planning matter, not a licensing matter. incredible! i think the rest of your advice about access is highly dubious.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:59 AM, 1st December 2012, About 11 years ago

I concur that Article 4 is a planning directive and is not connected to selective licensing.

I'm interested in opinion on whether the tenant is in fact acting as a landlord by subletting this property and should himself be one responsible for licensing the property. If this is not the case could it be that freeholders are responsible for the licensing of all leasehold properties which the landlord leaseholder has decided to let as an HMO. I'm also interested in your opinion on whether the circumstances described, i.e. not being the tenants primary residence, affects matters. David has said the landlord is aware of the arrangement but if this can not be proven it also begs the question of whether the landlord can be held responsible for no licence even if it is proven that the tenant who has chosen to sublet is not responsible for the licensing.

16:49 PM, 1st December 2012, About 11 years ago

Hi, I am David. Thank you to all who have contributed, very helpful. Firstly let me say that in order to afford to live in Oxford, like many others sharing is a necessity not an option. I like my landlord, I get on very well with him, I don't like being responsible for putting him in this situation, but I know for a fact he is not going to stump up 6K to upgrade this property. This much needed legislation is to improve standards for all and catch rogue landlords, it is not intended to make people homeless, however that is precisely what it will do to me, my landlord will end my tenancy - probably on the excuse of selling, he will go through the selling motions, then withdraw the house from sale, and rent it to a family, I will have to go out into the marketplace and rent a room in a shared house - probably another unlicensed HMO. My local Councillor tells me no rogue landlords have been caught in this city as a result of these new laws, and to classify all 3 person households as HMO's is totally unfair as it is more likely that larger 6 people household will be the ones experiencing overcrowding and cramming. In the case of people who have stayed here, documents from their schools/colleges show that their main homes are elsewhere, in the case of a Mon-Thu stayer I have a copy of her Council tax bill proving her main residence is elsewhere, I clean the rooms and launder the bedlinen, can anyone help on this point.

Thank you all,


Joe Bloggs

19:03 PM, 1st December 2012, About 11 years ago

sound like its being run a bit like a hostel, so i wouldnt think that not being normal home gives an exemption. i have a similar situation where i let to a family who with my knowledge sub let all the rooms. it all works fine to everyones benefit. in my opinion my tenants are landlords and i thought they would be responsible for the hmo additional licence and i would just need a selective licence. however, when i filled in the form it asks how many people live at the property, NOT how many people are tenants, so i have now taken on the responsibility for the hmo licence.

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