HMO licence declined and I must now evict tenants?

by Readers Question

14:16 PM, 15th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

HMO licence declined and I must now evict tenants?

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HMO licence declined and I must now evict tenants?

A house has been used as an HMO, but after applying for a licence it was not granted and the instruction is to return the property to a single-family dwelling.

It is currently operated by a reputable sub-let company who rent individual rooms to mainly minimum wage workers from Eastern Europe. To comply with the Council’s requirement, each of the tenants would need to be given 2 months’ notice. However, the rents are very reasonable, and the tenants have no motivation to leave and try and find alternative accommodation.

The question of where help or advice would be very welcome is:

If one or more tenants refuse to leave after the 2 months has expired, what action can be taken in the current climate to evict them from the property to comply with the Council’s requirement?

Many thanks

Jonathan


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Comments

Julie Ford

15:06 PM, 15th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Depending on when the notice was served, it’s unlikely to be two months, as this has been increased to 3 months and now to 6 months

You need to co tact Landlords Defence and speak to Des Taylor, he will be able to advise you fully in this

TrevL

15:17 PM, 15th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

'Reputable sub-let company', clearly not, they were operating HMO without licences and probably not to the required fire safety standards.

Lets hope there is not a fire in the property while there are sitting tenants (that can't be evicted).....

Ian Narbeth

10:25 AM, 16th October 2020
About A week ago

Jonathan
If the tenants learn of their rights they may seek a Rent Repayment Order for up to 12 months rent during the time the the house was not licensed as an HMO and ought to have been. The "reputable" sub-let company clearly did not know or did not care to comply with the law. Unless there are more than 6 occupants it appears there is an Article 4 direction in force in the area or else planning use as an HMO would have been permitted development.
In the current climate the landlord may be caught between a £10 sub-let company that may cut and run and a legal system that may see the tenants hold out for over a year before he regains possession.

Earlsdon

10:32 AM, 16th October 2020
About A week ago

If there has been a delay in the LA making a determination of granting of the Licence the authority may not be within it's rights to refuse it see: https://www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/how-quickly-should-hmo-licence-application-be-processed

John Daley

10:54 AM, 16th October 2020
About A week ago

Hi,

What reason has the LA given for refusing your licence ?

Robert Mellors

13:03 PM, 16th October 2020
About A week ago

The "reputable sub-let company" will need to serve the tenants with 6 months Notice, and then follow all legal processes to evict them, but this could take 18+ months in total due to the current notice requirements and backlog of court cases awaiting a hearing.

You will also need to check your lease agreements with the "sub-let company" as YOU may have been required to have all necessary consents prior o entering into the agreement, and if you did not have this then you may be in breach of contract and they could sue you.

The tenants may be able to obtain a Rent Repayment Order against you and/or the "reputable sub-let company", and this could be for a considerable sum. (I believe this is for up to 12 months rent paid).

You haven't said WHY the council has refused the HMO licence, but depending on the reasons given, it may be that you could appeal against this decision?

You definitely need to get some specialist legal advice, and as suggested by Julie Ford above, Des Taylor at Landlord Licencing and Defence would be a good option.

Jonathan

13:13 PM, 16th October 2020
About A week ago

Thank you for the helpful comments so far. To answer John's question, the reason for the LA's refusal to grant the licence is that it has been used as an HMO since 2012 but as an Article 4 Direction is in force, the LA won't grant planning permission to formalise the use. They've said we can apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness but only if we can demonstrate at least 10 years' use as an HMO. We only have 8 years use

TrevL

13:53 PM, 16th October 2020
About A week ago

There seems to be mention of planning and fines and rent repayment etc.....but if there's a fire in the property while tenants are there and the property does have the correct fire safety measures, i.e. fire compartmentation, fire doors, alarms etc....well that's a potential jail sentence and the talk of certificate of lawlessness will just highlight the time it's been non-compliant.

John Daley

13:54 PM, 16th October 2020
About A week ago

Well if there was an Article 4 direction in force you are rather pissing into the wind.

Chances of fighting this are next to zero.

Best you serve the notices as required and see where it takes you.

Robert Mellors

14:01 PM, 16th October 2020
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by TrevL at 16/10/2020 - 13:53
There is no mention of any breach of HMO regulations, (fire related or otherwise), and from what Jonathan has said it would appear to be an issue relating to the Article 4 area designation. However, if no fire doors and alarms etc then yes I agree that the concern would be risk of injury to the residents in the event of a fire, BUT from what has been posted so far, there is no indication of this being an issue (unless I've missed something).

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