Is this a recipe for disaster?

Is this a recipe for disaster?

15:15 PM, 14th June 2018, About 5 years ago 11

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My daughter and 3 friends want to rent a 3 storey, 4 bedroom house.

To avoid having to licence it as an HMO, the Landlord wants to put 2 tenants only the contract and allow sub-letting to the other 2!

Is this a recipe for disaster?

What should I advise her?

Many thanks




10:19 AM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

A landlord who wants to cut corners doesn't sound like a good bet but this property is not subject to mandatory licensing unless there are five people so unless the local authority have other requirements it should be OK (as long as no-one moves their partner in).

Nick Faulkner

11:20 AM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

Surely the three storie aspect makes for a registered hmo

Whiteskifreak Surrey

11:22 AM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

3 floors might be disputable, even if there is only 4 people. As they want to rent together an AST with all 4 of them living as one "unit" / "family" (with a leading tenant) should be possible without registering as a HMO. It is where we are, but there might be local regulations. I do not like the fact that the Landlord wants to bend the conditions from the very start, though.


11:59 AM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

Two sides to every 'storey'! Sounds like a clever idea to me as long as it's legal, better than paying extortionate licence fees! We're ripped off many ways by councils, e.g. up to 150% c/tax on an empty property to name just one. Our council have now banned dog walking in parks and introduced nice fat juicy fines £1,000s, strange, a dog can walk itself without fear of being fined one penny and doesn't have to clean up it's own mess! Our top councilors are paid well in excess of £100,000 each p.a. with no mention of voluntary cut in wages but they have to get their money ftom somewhere I suppose, poor things! You've guessed it, I don't like councils. Rant over!

Graham Bowcock

12:01 PM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

Dear Jim

Sounds like one to avoid. An HMO, whether licensable or not, is a matter of fact. Some landlords do seek to interpret the definition to suit themselves, confusing licenced and unlicenced, taking unlicenced to mean they do not have to comply with regulations. This is not the case.

Your daughter and her friends must protect their safety, which is principally what HMO regulation is about. If the landlord is seeking to circumvent the regs, how safe is the house?


Simon M

12:30 PM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

Definitely avoid - the reasons Graham has given should be enough. If not, also think about you're daughter's liability if she does this. If she's one of the 2 tenants, she's accepting full liability for those who aren't. This may seem fine at first but their circumstances will change. What if they fall out as friends, or one wants a new partner to move in, or one stops paying their share or leaves? If she's one of the lodgers, will she be happy to have less right to live there, pay an equal share of the deposit and have no right to claim it back from the DPS?


13:06 PM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Whiteskifreak Surrey at 15/06/2018 - 11:22
I did check it and 4 is OK for national rules in a three storey building. If they're not related then they can't say that they are, unless they are two couples in which case that should work but I am not sure.

Agree that the landlord sounds dodgy - what other regulations is he prepared to break? Although he has my sympathy a bit as they sound like great tenants and getting the licence is very expensive.


15:41 PM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

I think the landlord has come up with a brilliant idea for avoiding the licensing fee and must congratulate him or her on this.

If the Landlord truly followed all the safety aspects, I would have said yes go ahead however, the very fact that he is following the path where he is attempting to cut corners in respect of costs, I would anticipate that, he would not be fulfilling all safety requirements.

I would say better be safe than sorry and avoid.


16:00 PM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

This may avoid the licence issue, but could still require planning for an HMO. Councils requirements vary on this one, but more than 2 people not of the same family can be construed as an HMO for planning. As there are only 4 of them, no need for subcontracting to avoid licensing. If there were 5 then it will still be an HMO whether the contract was split or not unless the floors were then up to scratch as self contained flats as per building regs. It's not the contract but the occupancy that counts. I think!

Yvonne Francis

19:46 PM, 15th June 2018, About 5 years ago

In some areas it is three and not five as most of these posts suggest. Also the number of storey's can be irrelevant. That is if Article 4 applies which is for ever increasingly being taken up by Councils. (I have to licence a two storey house for three). If this Landlord thinks he is avoiding licensing with four then it is quite probable that Article 4 applies in this area. I can not understand why the Landlord would want to take the risk considering it is £20,000 fine as he is responsible for who actually lives there even if they are not on the lease.

It would also mean only two are responsible for the rent. And if this Landlord was caught at the very least the two lodgers would have to leave. The best thing to do is check out the Councils regulations in the area of this house to see whether this landlord needs to License and if he does I would not touch it.

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