Will A Hazard Awareness Notice in a HMO affect Value?

by Readers Question

9:36 AM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Will A Hazard Awareness Notice in a HMO affect Value?

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Will A Hazard Awareness Notice in a HMO affect Value?

I have a five bedroom house which I have just made 6 bedroom with a loft conversion, making it a licenseable HMO.

It is classed as a shared house, with one tenancy agreement.

All work has building regs approval and has been passed by the fire authorities. The environmental health officer who visited initially proposed to put a prohibition notice on the loft room, one first floor bedroom and a shower room.  This was a huge overreaction and with a small amount of work and a lot of protesting and involving a councillor he has now decided to ‘only’ put a Risk of Hazard Notice on my loft room. This does not require me to take any action, but is in case anyone ‘bumps their head’ on the sloping walls. I cannot appeal this. Does anyone have any idea what the consequences of this will be if I remortgage or decide to sell? A local estate agent and my solicitor both feel this is going to be a major problem. Hazard Awareness Notice in a HMO

I look forward to reading your comments.

Many thanks

Edna



Comments

Jamie M

9:44 AM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

with B regs approval it is a lawful conversion and the environmental moron has no grounds for any notices as you have complied. B regs should give you a certificate which make your house fine for any new purchaser.

Joe Bloggs

10:02 AM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

presumably was this done under the:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-health-and-safety-rating-system-guidance-for-landlords-and-property-related-professionals
?
if it complies with current building regs then i think the eho has something wrong with his head...perhaps he banged it on your ceiling.

Industry Observer

10:26 AM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Let's deal with the actual issue.

If you have had a category 2 warning notice the LA has poewers to act, but not a duty.

If it is category 1 then they have the duty and if you do not successfully appeal will do the work and bill you. If you don't then pay you'll get a charging order placed by them which means no sale without clearing it.

Leaving aside the argument about wherther this should be an issue or not for the EHO/LA unless there is an enforcement notice issued then nothing attaches to the house as such. If there was one then it could not be sold or re-let until the work was done.

With a category 2 advisory notice you are in an interesting position. Do nothing and if nothing ever happens, like someone knocking their head badly enough to have serious injury, nothing to worry about.

But if something serious does flow from it at a later date you'll wish you'd volunteered to do the work.

I always advise clients and all I train to take any category 2 notice seriously

Ian Ringrose

10:46 AM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Interesting problem….

The building control has said the lost conversion is safe; however it is assume that a single loft room will only be used by people that are used to it, including its stairs and ceiling high.

But in a HMO there could very easily be visitors to someone’s room, and therefore people that don’t know about the ceiling height etc. These visitors may also be drinking in the room.

If the notice is as daft as you say it is, I don’t think displaying it in the property will have much effect on a sale until the mortgage state. However mortgage companies these days often will not lend just becouse they think something may stop another mortgage company lending – so slowing down a forced sale. They are few enough lenders for HMOs without having any other issues.

Has the HMO licence be granted yet….

Did the building control approved the plans before you did the work, if so could there be a case against building control for not picking up the issue at that point?

Mike W

10:54 AM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Luckily in Scotland we don't have this law.
But lets look at the facts. The room complies with (presumably) the latest building regulations? So why would building regulations not cover this? Surely the EO is acting beyond his powers - ie he knows better than those who write the building regs? Someone trying to prove that they actually have a job?

I suggest a formal complaint to the council using this logic.

Go through the 3 stage complaints procedure -stage 3 is the CEO of the council. Then go to the ombudsman. IF there is common sense then someone will back down. Its a good story for the tabloids otherwise - bad PR for the council.

Unless of course there is more to this story than you are telling us?

Jonathan Wilson

10:58 AM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

What part of the loft has been identified on the notice?

What did you do to get on the wrong side of this guy?

Industry Observer

11:25 AM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Can we just clarify one thing here because we are going off on all sorts of tangents.

Building Control is building control and 1991 version.

EHO operating under an HHSRS is not the same thing by a long chalk mainly because HHSRS is urely prescriptive.

There are still three different definitions of an HMO - a housing one (new 2004 Act), one for C Tax and one for planning (building regs)

HHSRS is all about fitness standards. As a simple example you could have something which passes building control, but in tems of safety and hazards for occupier AND visitors where under HHSRS the EHO has concerns.

To my mind that is the area you are in. I can easily see a situation where building control being much more about specific heights, width, build quality etc has one set of concerns and an EHO under HHSRS has another.

Simple answer category 2 is only advisory what you have to do about it in itself and the work is up to you. In terms of displaying notices nothing needs to be displayed at the property.

But in terms of a sale and the rules now surrounding disclosure my guess is your solicitor needs to advise if you must volunteer any information, or only is asked by the purchaser's team.

John Daley

14:05 PM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

Hi Edna,

In reverse order: - If you decide to sell I don't see why this will have any effect at all. You will be selling a six bed property on the open market, you have no duty to the prospective purchaser to disclose the licensing issue, even if your purchaser wants this to use as an HMO he will have to get his own license and the LA inspector could easily come up with a completely different HHSRS assessment. If we worried about HHSRS on open market sales there woukld hardly ever be a sale of an old house.

Likewise the valuation for remortgage will not take this into account because it should not affect the value of the property.

We have no idea how the underheight ceilings actually affect the property, however a fair number of bedrooms have under height ceilings without adverse efffects. My concern would be if the main exit route had any obvious hazard for banging your head, which would be a clear risk during an emergency.

I'd be curious to see how you got your works passed by the fire authorities, I didn't think they did inpections any more, the Fire Risk Assessment is your responsibility.

Industry Observer

14:12 PM, 19th November 2013
About 6 years ago

john

I repeat Edna can only be sure of the position on obligations to disclose if she checks it with her solicitor.

Sian Wyatt

9:54 AM, 21st November 2013
About 6 years ago

Thank you everyone who has taken the time to read this and leave a comment!

The EHO accepts that there is no work that can be done to change the loft room. It is a long triangular room, measuring 11.65m by 3.09m. The height of the ceiling is 2.3m, but with sloping walls. At a height of 1.9m the width is 1.17m, and at a height of 1.5m the width is 1.7m. There is at least 2.1m headroom at all points of the stairs. The design of the roof is such that no modifications can be made to that shape. I pointed out that every loft conversion in the area has some sloping walls, and his comment was that he hadn't seen them. If he did, he would put a Risk of Hazard notice on them too....

The Fire Officers have been round three times now and are entirely happy with the loft room and everything else. There was also an issue downstairs as the EHO would not accept my very expensive sprinkler system as an alternative to a protected route and wanted walls built through my lovely open plan lounge and kitchen. The EHO eventually backed down on that and then slapped on the HAN on the loft. He also is trying to insist on every bedroom having a basin when there are three bathrooms with WC and two separate WC all with hand basins.

I feel bullied.

Edna


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