HMO outrage for landlords & tenants – this time it’s Council Tax!

HMO outrage for landlords & tenants – this time it’s Council Tax!

13:35 PM, 2nd July 2012, About 10 years ago 23

Text Size

We have received an anonymous tip off that could cause yet another HMO outrage and could be a disaster for both landlords and tenant groups if the rumours are indeed true and are implemented.

Allegedly, Torbay Council collated data of all HMOs in their area two weeks ago and are intending to charge Council Tax based on each room being a Band A property (£996.55 a year currently). By way of comparison, a six bed HMO now in Band E would incur a council Tax bill of £1827.01 per annum. The new plans will yield £5,979.30 a year. That’s a whopping 227% increase!

Homeless in Devon - HMO outrageOur informant told us that one of the reasons for doing this is to move the unemployed out of the area. I can’t see how that will work though as the unemployed should qualify for exemption from Council Tax. Is this a way for Torbay Council to increase its share of the public purse I wonder? Another sinister view is this could be a longer term plan to drive out the unemployed when benefits fall under the proposed Universal Credit payment system.

What will this do for homelessness?

We have recently seen Newham Council in London attempting to relocate its unemployed to Stoke on Trent. Are other councils going to adopt what some might see as social cleansing policies?

HMO Outrage – What Devon Landlords Association had to say

On receiving this tip off I spoke to a representative of Devon Landlords Association who had heard nothing of these plans but was very concerned. They will be making their own investigations.

Concerned tenants living in HMOs in Devon are advised to contact Devon SmartMove

Rest assured we will provide more information as this story unfolds. I’m sure it will not be long before the powers that be in Torbay Council will learn of the existence of this article and we very much hope they will provide a definitive response in the comments section below. In the meantime, please let your own feelings be known by leaving a comment below.



22:45 PM, 3rd July 2012, About 10 years ago

If I recall correctly a lodger only need a TV licence if there is a lock on their room door, I think the “lock on the room” may become the key factor for Council Tax as well.


23:35 PM, 3rd July 2012, About 10 years ago

I don't think this is the case as if you put a lock on the door with a lodger gthen defacto the lodger becomes a tenant.
I guess to check out TV licencing website.
Acadmic really as if a property is a single dwelling TV licencing will never know you have alodger with a TV in the room.
Of course a licence is also needed if viewing on a lap-top.
TV licencing aren't that sophisticated yet and so nobody bothers.
They just work on the presumption that every property has a TV and they enforce from that level only.

by Reader

5:55 AM, 4th July 2012, About 10 years ago

Renegotiate ASTs for residents to pay own Council Tax. Nearly all will pay zero due to benefit. You save money on expenses and only a few slight reductions in rent. Council now out of pocket!

by Mark Alexander

7:55 AM, 4th July 2012, About 10 years ago

@d2a64f128c73ae537e8368163a803540:disqus It's not that simple.

The Council get government money to pay benefits, therefore, the Councils are simply finding a way to get more money. When Universal credit comes in and benefits get reduced, who pays then. Either way, the poverty trap widens if people now have to find an extra £1,000 a year after taxes. Also, several landlords are withdrawing from the HMO LHA market and letting to self supporting tenants only, where does this leave them? The only people that are unlikely to be affected is students (who are exempt) and student landlords. Wasn't this why Article 4 planning was bought in though? It's time to start investing into B&B's I reckon.


3:24 AM, 5th July 2012, About 10 years ago

Yep Mark absolutely correct, coastal towns with those big houses with B&B in them will take a fortune.
Far more than the silly LHA amounts
I reckon in Margate you could get £45 per day
Crikey that is £1395.00 per month
The council tax in Margate will have to increase substantially as they will have to pay the Temporary accommodation costs.
So LHA on a single room in a HMO say £420 per month with no council tax bill for the tenant, but of course Article 4 means not enough HMO's around.
It is going to cost councils 4 times what they pay out on LHA.
Also as far as I am aware there is a lwa that councils can only house someone in TA for a short period.
Where will these people be put then as there will be no private HMO's!!!!
Talk about unintended consequences or what!!?
Once govt starts e3eeing the demand for increased budget for housing at councils they will query why and then will they be told about Article 4 and the effect it is having.
I reckon the govt seeing the massive increase in benefit required for TA will do a volte-face and stop councils using Article 4.
There are only so many B & B's in the UK and certainly not enough for the claimants.Of couse private tenants should start seeing more property availability as LL convert HMO's back to normal dwellings; but of course that is if they are allowed to do so!?
Also would it be cost effective.
I reckon these circumstances could bankrupt quite a few LL
Would it be possible to turn a HMO into a B &B as LL would make far more that way.
Food for thought maybe as it seems councils are hellbent on using this Article 4 planning
I reckon I am sitting pretty with my bog standard normal flats.
I think the ndays of sweating an asset are long gone and consequently viability for LL will reduce.
They will just decide the margins aren't there and try and withdraw from the market.
How any of this is supposed to assist in the housing crisis I will never know.
Apparently there are 233000 new households being created yearly.
where are they all supposed to go!!?


15:14 PM, 5th July 2012, About 10 years ago

For rooms in HMOs to be considered for Council Tax banding they must be self-contained, and valued independently by the VOA. If these criteria are not met then a local authority cannot demand such payments.

by don haley

10:51 AM, 8th July 2012, About 10 years ago

nothing new for eastriding council when i had a hmo house in withernsea they charged full tax on each room

by alan wetherall

12:00 PM, 10th July 2012, About 10 years ago

Hi I am a landlord in Northamptonshire and had the valauation officer round after the council had been tipped off i had converted the house into flats. We converted a semi detached house into three studio rooms (each with its own Elfin kitchen but they all shared a bathroom) they tripled the rates from £941 to £2023 per year and classed a room 12ft x 13ft as a band A ratable value dwelling. When I asked him what the criteria was for doing this he told me it was because each tenant had an individual tenancy agreement which made their room a dwelling. there is no redress for this as it boils down to his opionion.
I asked if the following criteria whould class a room as a dwelling and the answer was no in each case. Locks on the dorrs, microwave in the room, fridge in the room, all where no. It was the individual tenancy agreements which mattered. When i told him that every HMO in corby was like this he agreed and that they would also have to pay multiple room rates if they were reported to the council when i told him that this would make them all unprofitable and result in 100,s of tennats being put out on the streets he said it wasnt his problem.
The local NLA rep could offer no help than "they were also trying it on in Wellingborough" but he did suggest i contact my local MP. Lousie Mensch but as she never visits Corby that was a great suggestion. The national NLA help line where no better (Why do i bother paying my membership)
Its made a nice liitle HMO of mine with nice tenants absolutly non profitable so what do i do.

by Mark Alexander

17:54 PM, 18th July 2012, About 10 years ago

UPDATE - I have just received this email from Torbay Council

Dear Mr Alexander

You recently sent an email to the Council Tax inbox at
Torbay Council asking if it was our intention to charge Council Tax band A for
all rooms in houses of multiple occupation.

In answer to your question, the local authority can only
issue a Council Tax demand to a property that has been banded by Her Majesty’s
Revenue and Customs, Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

At present the VOA have made no changes to the way that
houses in multiple occupation are banded, and therefore only one Council Tax
demand would be issued.

If in the future there are changes made to the Council
Tax list then the local authority would have to amend records and bill

If you need further advice on this aspect, then you will
need to make contact with the VOA direct.

This can be done by telephoning 03000 501501 or via the

If you require any additional information, please let me


y Ian

Revenue Coordinator

Revenue Section

Torbay Council

Town Hall

Castle Circus


' (01803)



18:46 PM, 18th July 2012, About 10 years ago

well....boys and girls......I did predict this 5 years ago.
I'm a landlord based in Rugby. to keep up with the new 2004 housing act my colleagues and I went to all the council hosted forums which was nothing more than an invitation to be spoon fed poo.

when analysed, the true nature of the changes to housing legislation became obvious.
there was only one end game. Mrs. Thatcher called it ( or rather the press did ) pole tax.
the concept was a means to tax individuals within a house and not the house itself.

In every HMO you have individuals. and they will pay pole tax. the unemployed will not.
so an HMO, student let, a house/flat share, will all come under this rule.

councils have been asking for this for years to pay their very large pension bill.

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?