Planning and building control office discover unused basement room

Planning and building control office discover unused basement room

11:15 AM, 30th August 2013, About 10 years ago 6

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I have a HMO which I bought way back, it is officially licensed etc and above board.

They recently discovered that there was a basement in the building which had been converted in to a room with en-suite facilities illegally. The work was done before we bought the building and has never been let out and won’t be because it is not up to scratch from a legislation point of view etc.

I had a meeting with building control, private sector housing and planning. They are now saying that as it has come to their attention that this is there, that they want me to put it beyond use. Which would basically mean, taking out the en-suite and cutting off the water supply to the area. Removing and cutting off the sockets and electrics to the area and get a new periodic inspection report.

To me is seems completely over the top as  have not asked for it to be licensed, and don’t rent the room out, so why do I have to go to all this expense of making it unusable.

My question is, can they make me do this or can I lawfully argue that the room is not being used, it won’t be used so let’s leave it as that.

Thanks for your help.


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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:32 AM, 30th August 2013, About 10 years ago

Hi Zahir

Have you considered offering to seal the entrance as an alternative? For example, bricking up the doorway?

G Brown

16:22 PM, 30th August 2013, About 10 years ago

Before I converted my HMO basement into something similar to your description, there was a fire door to which only I had the key. The door was kept locked so no one had access down the stairs. Ask if your LA are happy with this idea. Normally if you play ball with the Environment Department, I've found them to be quite fair. I would advise you to make sure that no one is able to use the basement as a habitable area until you have the correct safety features and documents in place

Mary Latham

11:00 AM, 1st September 2013, About 10 years ago

Which department actually asked you to disable this room? Did they specifically tell you to do all of those things?

From your post it would seem that it is mainly Planning? Planning have the powers to ask anyone to dismantle a building or part of a building for which they have not given consent.

The shower can be disabled by cutting off the water supply and removing the shower head and blanking off the feed. You do not need to remove the shower area, it will become a cupboard.

Environmental Health will want the Electric Inspection Report updated and this can be done with the issue of a minor works certificate from a qualified Electrician who has disconnected the power to the area - they should not need a whole new Inspection Report.

The door to the rooms could be sealed with a plasterboard panel over the door frame.

For Environmental Health to have issues regarding your HMO Licence they would need to prove that the room was being occupied in line with The Houses in Multi Occupation ( Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2006 which makes it clear that the prescribed description is based on occupancy not availability.

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Jay James

12:27 PM, 1st September 2013, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mary Latham" at "01/09/2013 - 11:00":

I previously had a plan to buy and live in a house (Brum) because it seemed cheap but tatty.  It was rather large and occupied by persons paying high rents via HB ranging 92 - 105 in 2008! (Paperwork was seen for 92.00pw HB for one of the rooms). 
Given the state of the house, number of rooms and rent levels, it was seen as viable to do remedial and extension works.  This would have included improving the offering to each tenant by some margin and making the loft habitable but not used with the door locked 24/7. 
Environmental Health in my then home area (not Brum), stated that a habitable loft or basement is part of the floor count for HMOs, whether or not it is occupied.  This along with other factors contributed to the plan being unrealised. 
As at 2012, the house was run by an agency and for less rent, what a wasted opportunity. 
It now seems the EHOs may have been mistaken if I read Mary Latham's comment correctly.  It was clear at the time that the EHOs were speaking in part from their own interpretations and not reading from something in print. 

Mary Latham

17:04 PM, 2nd September 2013, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jay Jay" at "01/09/2013 - 12:27":

Yes Jay Jay many local authorities get this wrong and one was taking legal action against one of my landlords for failure to apply for an HMO licence until this document was quoted and they backed-off.
This is why I always tell landlords to ask for the source of any requests made by someone in authority. Could you Imagine Marks & Spencers doing something that a local authority told them to do without a source for the request? Why should we - landlords are in business too.

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18:19 PM, 3rd September 2013, About 10 years ago

Thanks for your comments everyone. Its actually building control who are leading the charge. I would offer to brick it up but there are meters down there so i can't.

i think what i will do is just disconect the water supply and the sockets and then if they go on i will put up a bit of resistance.

Oh and yes the door is locked its a fire door etc so no issues there again.

i always generally prefer to play ball unless what i feel they are asking is totally disproportionate.

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