HMO in private residence?

by Readers Question

15:26 PM, 15th March 2021
About a month ago

HMO in private residence?

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HMO in private residence?

I’m a little confused about the legal side of HMO at your own home or private residence. My home is a bungalow. In early 2016 I completed a loft conversion which gave me two bedrooms(one en-suite) a bathroom and a small box room upstairs. The intention was for my partner’s son and family to live with us. It didn’t materialise.

Early 2017 I started to take in foreign students/teachers to utilise the double room/bathroom upstairs. This usually ran from March to August. The room was left vacant then until the following year. In August 2019 I started Airbnb for the times of no students. I have also had lodgers stay, on and off, from before the loft conversion.

No students last year and some limited Airbnb because of Covid-19. I do have two lodgers currently staying, not related, both in downstairs bedrooms, one en-suite other shares a bathroom. One is long-standing the other has been here just over a year. I also live in the bungalow.

Upstairs is totally vacant.

I have heard I should not even have 2 lodgers, Airbnb could also be considered as ‘lodgers’ and even students!(although not to sure if the students will ever start again). I have tried to look at various sites, but not finding anything clear.

Does anyone have any advice or suggestions? How easy is it to get HMO licence at your home, if needed? Home is W Sussex.

There is a hard-wired fire alarm upstairs, but no fire doors. I welcome your replies.

Richard

Comments

Des Taylor Landlords Defence Ltd

13:58 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Hello Richard,

Good questions and the most important is that you keep yourself legal.

Renting a room or room to up to two lodgers who do not form part of your household (related by Blood or Sexual Union) is permitted without the need for HMO Licensing.

Councils have caught many live-in landlords when they have had three lodgers, as this forms a HMO which may or may not need licensing (dependent on the local authority and if Additional Licensing is in place for that area). If Article 4 Direction exists, then more than 2 lodgers will format HMO and mean you would be in breach of planning.

HMO requires the compliance with HMO Regulations and you have many specific duties under that.

For your own safety in your own home I would spend the money on a Fire Risk Assessment if you do Airbnb from time to time as you have obligations on you under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and its amends and updates to comply with when providing accommodation.

Most importantly whether you are living in your own home with or without short-stay and long-stay occupants, every house must comply with the appropriate Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005 (SI3208) known as HHSRS and whatever the use I would make sure you comply and that the occupants are aware of any matters regarding their conduct to ensure safety of others, such as keeping gangways, halls, landings and staircases are free from obstruction, that there is adequate space for living and sleeping, that design and layout is good so as to be able to maintain the property and that you mitigate any risk such as falls on the level and between levels and that there is not excess cold or excess heat.

There is a lot to be aware of and as landlords are the latest target for lawyers who make their fees from no win - no fee, be sure you are protected.

Most of all make sure you use the correct agreement for the terms of their occupation.

Finally, neighbours are the latest law enforcement agents, often reporting properties as HMO because they see differing people going and coming at differing times of the day. So be aware, you may get a call, a visit or a raid form the local authority and you must be sure they have nothing to be able to allege an offence, by there not being an offence being committed unwittingly.

If I can assist do let me know.

Des Taylor
Casework Director
Landlords Defence Limited
Fighting for Landlords - Defending Against Councils and Unscrupulous Tenants

David

14:01 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Rent a room is a tax benefit and has nothing to do with HMO legislation. If you own the property, you are allowed to have 2 non family members living there without it being an HMO. Any more and it does become an HMO. Whether it would be a licensable HMO would depend on the local authority licensing policy. However, 4 lodgers plus yourself would make it mandatory licensable under statute.

Des Taylor Landlords Defence Ltd

15:15 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by David at 16/03/2021 - 14:01
David,

Absolutely and the councils are out looking to catch anyone breaking the rules. Checking data on all sorts of databases including credit reference agencies, according to one of the Shire Councils.

There are no ends to where the local authority will gather its data and intelligence. The closest is the neighbours reporting.

Paul Shears

15:32 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Des Taylor Landlords Defence Ltd at 16/03/2021 - 15:15
I have absolutely no doubt that a neighbour reported me for a potential HMO violation and neither have some tenants of mine that told me about an unannounced council visit. The excuse given was that they had been told that the garage had been converted into living accommodation. This "excuse" did not require much imagination on the council's part as the properties on either side had actually done so many years ago.
My rental property still very clearly had a garage and a brief chat between the council officer and my lead tenant involved an enquiry regarding the details of the tenancy agreement. The tenant advised the council officer to talk to me directly but the officer simply stated that it was not necessary.
As I am completely above board with the council and have several neighbours who object to any tenants at all, it's obvious to me that a neighbour was trying to stir things up.
Both my tenants and I are of the opinion that this "neighbourly" conduct was driven by jealousy and my tenants tend to have some of the most expensive cars in the road.

steph3910

17:01 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

An HMO is legally defined by my council as 3 people from separate households in the same property sharing facilities within the house. This means that having 2 lodgers in your home would make your property an HMO. it would depend on your council as to what they require you to have.
My HMO has fire doors with closers smoke alarms in every room turn button locks on every door. I have added these to my own house aswell because I want to be safe where I live.
There will be information online about your council. You do not need planning permission for an HMO until you have 6+ people for my council.

David Rose

17:17 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by steph3910 at 16/03/2021 - 17:01
Are you sure of this. I was under the impression that, as Des Taylor said, two lodgers were permitted if the landlord lived in without it being classed as an HMO (but not if the landlord lives out).

David Rose

17:19 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Des Taylor Landlords Defence Ltd at 16/03/2021 - 13:58
Does it make any difference as to how many blood relatives of the landlord live in the property ?
I'm pretty sure that the NRLA said that you could have your parents, your children and your brothers and sisters living in the house and still have 2 lodgers without it being classed as an HMO.

Paul Shears

18:13 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by David Rose at 16/03/2021 - 17:19
That makes sense to me.

Des Taylor Landlords Defence Ltd

19:27 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by steph3910 at 16/03/2021 - 17:01
Hello Steph,

Your council is right 3 occupants from 2 households is a HMO.

2 Lodgers with a live-in landlord and his family are exempt as a being a HMO.

Unless Article 4 is in place you can take a residential house and convert it to a HMO up to 6 occupants under Permitted Development Rights. Licensing is independent of planning and Article 4 directions.

Your council seems to be advising correctly.

Des Taylor Landlords Defence Ltd

19:29 PM, 16th March 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by David Rose at 16/03/2021 - 17:19
Hello David,

It is the landlord and his family plus 2 lodgers.

Overcrowding and space regulations apply at all times in all houses.

If the landlord lives out of a property they are not lodgers. They are tenants if it is their sole or main residence or considered to be so.

You are correct.

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