Renting HMO via verbal agreement?

by Readers Question

10:03 AM, 2nd December 2019
About 6 days ago

Renting HMO via verbal agreement?

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Renting HMO via verbal agreement?

I rent a property from a private landlord, via a verbal agreement, no contract. I am subletting 4 rooms out, which makes 5 of us in the property. The landlord is happy with this as long as I don’t over crowd the house. He has also made the rent very cheap so he doesn’t have to do any maintenance in the house.

Now the house isn’t in the best of conditions and via rent money I am slowly changing this, but it takes time when you are on a low income. Do I need to get a HMO licence or dose my landlord need to pay this?

I am very new to all this and it’s my first time renting a house and subletting. I saw a screwed up letter behind the washing machine from the last tenant and the local council have changed it that you have to pay a HMO licence from a household of 3 back in June, it use to be 5 from what I found out.

How long do I have to sort this out if I have to sort this out?

Andy



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:10 AM, 2nd December 2019
About 6 days ago

Hi Andy,

Assuming this is a for real situation I don't really know where to start. It sounds like every rule in the book is being potentially broken.

Are you acting as some sort of live in Rent to Rent lodger arrangement?

Simon Williams

11:12 AM, 2nd December 2019
About 6 days ago

The landlord must obtain a licence if the house has 5 or more unrelated occupants who are sharing one or more facilities. Failure to licence is a criminal offence. You would probably need to be on the application as manager.
Getting a licence isn't just a bunch of paperwork. The local authority will want to see that the electrical, gas and fire safety installations are all certificated and up-to-scratch. Other hazards around poor condition would also likely need to be addressed. All in all, a lot of fun lies ahead for you and your landlord.
If you reduced the number of tenants to 4, you might escape mandatory licensing, but check if the LA also has discretionary licensing scheme + the general liability to provide a safe property is still something for which the local authority is empowered to take action even in the absence of a mandatory licensing requirement. Get your landlord to make it safe.

Ian Narbeth

11:39 AM, 2nd December 2019
About 6 days ago

Andy
You have blundered into a mass of problems as Neil points out. You are probably committing several offences and your fellow tenants can seek Rent Repayment Orders from you so you will have to pay back all of the rent received for the past 12 months. This is because you are operating an unlicensed HMO. See e.g. https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/rent-repayment-orders.shtml
Your landlord is also in breach. He should give you a written tenancy agreement. By acquiescing in the operation of an unlicensed HMO he is also responsible. Furthermore, he cannot absolve himself from responsibility for maintenance.
Does your property have fire doors, door closers, fire/smoke alarm, gas safety certificate, EPC, electrical safety certificate etc., etc? Have appliances been PAT tested? Does all furniture comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988?
It appears neither you nor your landlord know very much about housing law. I suggest you take specialist legal advice urgently.

Rob Crawford

13:43 PM, 2nd December 2019
About 6 days ago

You need to look at damage limitation asap. I would suggest you seek possession as maybe required to reduce the number of unrelated tenants to three. This means you won't need a mandatory HMO license. The maintenance issues and other regulations applicable to small unlicensed HMO's then need to be addressed. The landlord has legal liability for managing and maintaining the property in a satisfactory condition. You need to speak to him with perhaps, facilitation from an appropriate expert.

Michael Barnes

16:20 PM, 3rd December 2019
About 4 days ago

It sounds like there is additional licencing in place, so lots of compliance issues to address even if only 3 people in there.

Rob Crawford

19:51 PM, 4th December 2019
About 3 days ago

Of course you are correct if additional licensing is in place but not sure I agree that it is implied!

Michael Barnes

23:54 PM, 6th December 2019
About A day ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 04/12/2019 - 19:51
Original post included "the local council have changed it that you have to pay a HMO licence from a household of 3 back in June".

That sounds like Additional Licencing to me.


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