Secret Home Sharers Can Run up Fines for Landlords

Secret Home Sharers Can Run up Fines for Landlords

15:28 PM, 24th August 2011, About 13 years ago

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"Flatshares mean some buy to let landlords will need to check licences"

Sharing digs is booming in popularity as young home-seekers are failing to raise mortgages to buy properties of their own.

In just a year, the number of flat sharers has mushroomed by 100,000 – up from 2.749 million a year ago to 2.85 million in 2011.

The findings, from property web site also revealed three people share digs on average.

Jonathan Moore, director of the firm, said: “Larger flat-shares are becoming more and more commonplace as the cost of living rises, and having four or five flatmates is not just limited to time spent in student digs.”

Landlords need to keep an eye on who is living in their homes as law changes in April 2010 could mean any buy to let property shared by three or more unrelated tenants could be considered a house in multiple occupation (HMO) by the local council.

HMO rules lay down severe financial penalties for landlords who take in tenants without a licence. Many HMO properties also need extensive alterations to comply with health, safety and fire regulations.

The risk is a property could inadvertently become an HMO if a letting agent moves in extra tenants, leaving the landlord open to prosecution and fines.

“It’s not even buying a home that is the most immediate concern for thousands of renters – renting alone is becoming an equally distant goal,” said Moore.

“For many, the size of the deposit needed, not to mention the sky-high rents, is prohibitive. Cost-conscious renters are opting to share properties – and split bills – to limit their monthly outgoings.

“As homeownership remains the ultimate goal for many renters, thousands of renters are looking to save deposits while they flat-share before buying, and avoid renting alone altogether.”

Landlords also need to check they are not missing out on extra rents if three renters are sharing a home – as they can increase income by charging rent per room rather than per property.

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