Fergus Wilson Panorama documentary – now available on iPlayer22:10 PM, 18th March 2019
About A week ago 99
I have been an avid reader of your letters for many years and wish to put to you a quandary regarding these new rules which are coming into effect in our district and also nationwide.
We are two owners and landlords of more than 50 mixed, fully approved multi-let, and licensed HMO properties in south Lincolnshire. We use a properly licensed management agent and have no problems with our legal or taxable status.
Our quandary is in regard to the changes in room sizes that are coming into effect and the way our local council is intending to enforce them.
They have sent us an official notice to provide them with addresses, room numbers and dimensions of ALL the rooms in ALL our properties to assess the room sizes in this regard.
We have complied and as a result the council are now intending to issue closure notices on many of our rooms as they fall under the guidance.
The closure notices are mixed between singles and doubles with the majority of the notices being double rooms that are under their required 15 sq m. ( even though it would appear that the legal requirement is in fact only 11sq m) We have only 3 rooms that are under 6.5sq m and presently let as singles. These have of course been issued with closure notices.
The problem as we see it, is thus –
Over that last 10 years we have invested over £2.5m in the refurbishment of our properties, we have worked with the council to assure the standards are fully met with regard to ALL of the regulations and have building plans for the refurbishments/conversions, complete with the correct number of bathrooms, kitchens, sound insulation and fire safety requirements etc etc. We have many building plans – signed off – and full photos, costings and listed refurbishments in our archives.
The council are now intent on issuing closure notices on the rooms that previously they had approved for double and single use due to the new requirements of the law.
The council have written to us stating it is now their legal requirement to enforce the room sizes ( due to national government insistence) even though it would appear that these room sizes were always in the regulations but had never been enforced by the council in any of our approved building works or planning applications.
If – as we can see happening – we are stopped from using the double rooms that are already in occupation by fully vetted and approved tenants – we will have to issue section 21 notices to the couples therein and refill the rooms with new single tenancies.
( with absolutely NO reissue of a single tenancy to “one” of the couples as this would lead to “over crowding” offence when they instantly let their partner “stay ” in their room “temporarily”)
The council are also intent on enforcing the regulations that each multi-let house will have to have at least one communal lounge for tenants use.
In business terms this means the loss of one letting bedroom per house and the loss of the double room rent(s) with the unnecessary eviction of more than 300 people under a VERY difficult process where such section 21 eviction may well be viewed by the courts as illegal, as it is being used only as a means to satisfy the difficult situation that would follow from a prosecution by the council against our company, for non compliance to a legal notice from themselves –
That legal notice being a change in their definition and insistence of room size regulations, which over the past decade, they had not strictly imposed on our conversions.
We have engaged the services of a barrister to take the council to task over this matter.
Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated as would any advice from your members.
We are seeking a simple solution – that being – a firm, written assurance with legal backing – that no action will be taken on retrospectively approved multi-let, HMO properties.
At present have four projects under construction which are now under threat – a new 20 bedroom ex-nightclub conversion and 3x, 6 room multi-let property refurbishments. All of which previously have had full council approval and are now at a standstill due to the council having changed their minds as to the bedroom sizes.
We think we need to stand our ground on this matter.
It will obviously effect millions of people in the future and will make it very difficult financially, to develop suitable properties for multi-let use.
With the imposition of the new mutli-let “mandatory licensing” laws in April of next year? – the councils will have the effective ability to refuse the license for properties – that fail “any” of the regulatory or management standards, with no regard as to their previous permissions, and effectively stop mutli-let use for retrospectively approved, decent, well designed and well run houses unless they are reconverted to the “new” regulations.
As you can imagine this is an impossible situation.
As a last word of humour?
The need for article 4 is now redundant!
Thank you so much for your excellent informative news and mails.
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