Southend council HMO licensing debacle

by Readers Question

13:01 PM, 7th February 2019
About 7 months ago

Southend council HMO licensing debacle

Make Text Bigger
Southend council HMO licensing debacle

I had paid the Southend council’s HMO license fee of £920 per property  and filled in their paper application (hand written) in Sep 2018. Both of my properties are standard 2 floor properties with 5 tenants in each.  They have been inspected by the council in the past and maintained to good standards.

When the applications were due, they did not even have a website page ready for the requirements and now I have been sent a link this week (after my chasing to them) of all their new requirements not mentioned before, which seems a bit over the top for standard houses (not multi floors, etc).

You can see their letter my comments and annoyance in the responses to them on Monday below:

Dear Sir/Madam

Housing Act 2004

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007

Re: Licence for House in Multiple Occupation at:

I write with regards to the application for an HMO licence received by this office. At this point, the Council considers the application to be invalid because it is incomplete and/or incorrect for the following reasons:

  • To Scale or to Proportion Floor Plans of Premises
  • Up to Date Copy of Automatic Fire Detection inspection and test certificate(s)
  • Up to Date Copy of Emergency Lighting inspection and test certificate(s)
  • A copy of the most recent signed Tenancy Agreement used at the property
  • A copy of the Domestic Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the entire HMO AND an EPC for each self-contained flat within
  • Up to Date Copy of portable Appliance Testing (PAT) certificates
  • A copy of the Fire Risk Assessment
  • A copy of relevant insurance Certificate

You should make arrangements to for the above to be supplied to the Private Sector Housing as soon as possible.

If you require further advice on how to correctly complete your application contact me at your earliest convenience on the above number or email.

It is the licence holder’s responsibility to ensure that a valid application including fee and supporting documents is submitted to ensure there is no period where the property does not hold a licence.

The Council has powers and duties to act should the licence fail to be applied for. Should you continue to operate the licensable HMO but fail to make a valid application and fee within a reasonable period this would constitute an offence punishable by prosecution through the courts with a maximum fine of £20,000.  Where licence holders fail to apply, the Council also has powers to serve an Interim Management Order (IMO) where the Council can take control of the property, tenancy agreements and rent. You should therefore ensure your application is made valid as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,

T Boyle

Private Sector Housing Enforcement Support Officer

 

Dear Sirs,

I had submitted 2 HMO License applications in Sep 2018 for my properties in  (number 64) and (number 30).  The appropriate fee was also paid.

Can you please confirm that they are still being processed and I should have my relevant paperwork soon?

Hi Ajay,

Please see the attached letter requesting the documentation required to process your HMO license applications

Dear Sirs,

Please note that the Electric Safety Certificate and Gas Safety certificates were provided with the application.  The property is let out on Rooms Only basis – so please clarify, if I require an EPC.  I can arrange a floor plan soon.  I do not have the last 2 items at present.  Can you please confirm the criteria for the requirement of these two as one of them clearly states ‘If Applicable’?

Hi Ajay,

The letter states that the EPC is required if applicable. Some HMO’s have an EPC and some don’t. If you haven’t got one and you pay the utility bills then that’s fine, just advise that you don’t have one.

The same as above applies to emergency lighting, some HMO’s require this and some don’t. This depends on the layout of the property but if you don’t have one just advise as much.

You will need a fire safety certificate though.

Hi Ajay,

The below email was sent to you in relation to your license applications and no response has been received by this Office.

Your applications have not been processed any further and the HMO’s remain unlicensed.

Please refer to our website for further information relating to licensing HMO’s.

https://www.southend.gov.uk/info/200365/housing_information/155/houses_in_multiple_occupation/2

Dear Sirs,

Please note that I pay the utility bills at both the properties, hence the EPCs are not relevant.  I do not believe that anything else is still outstanding.  If a Fire Safety Certificate is required for 2 floors, then I will organise this.

I am attaching a layout plan for 64, which was one of the requirements.



Comments

Zoe AM

9:04 AM, 8th February 2019
About 7 months ago

Hi
Through my work I have had to do 6 licenses in 6 different council areas. Each one has been a different price, from £185 per room to over £1k for a whole house. Each one has asked for a different list of things, some scaled plans, others they drew themselves when they inspected. All have required an EPC (we house our staff in the properties), fire alarm and weekly testing log, emergency lighting, Gas cert, 5 year electrical cert, the CEO to stand as the licence holder and someone locally to stand as a Manager. All the Directors had to sign the forms, they did Police checks on everyone who appeared on the licence and then 2 councils went a step further. They did a search on who owned the properties, requested fire assessments and wanted all visa paperwork?ID for the staff living in them.
West Oxfordshire cashed the cheque acknowledged the application and we haven't heard anything since they sent a letter out extending the deadline to December 31st!
So it seems the councils have been left to 'determine' the governments guidelines for these applications and left the property owners confused!

Anne Nixon

21:04 PM, 8th February 2019
About 7 months ago

Dealing with my HMO licence application has been absolutely traumatic.

My property, a 6 bed bungalow, was I thought perfect - fire doors, thumb turn locks, hard wired fire alarm system, ground floor bedrooms with escape windows the lot, and I expected it to fly through the inspection.

Unfortunately that was not to be, and they are insisting on a sprinkler system covering the large kitchen diner because the one upstairs bedroom has its fire exit out though a velux escape window and onto a large flat roof approximately 2 meters high from the ground and that is deemed 'perilous' so the person in that room must instead exit through the kitchen hence a sprinkler system must be installed.

I shall instead be converting the property into 2 semi detached bungalows which will be sold.

Darren Peters

9:39 AM, 9th February 2019
About 7 months ago

I already know the answer but if you have 5 bed licensable HMOs why not consider giving one tenant notice to quit and making a TV room. Depending on your circumstances, it may be cheaper than jumping through council hoops. Certainly less time-consuming. Sadly I suspect that licencing will drop down to 4 beds so it's a stay of execution while you make other plans.

AA

20:29 PM, 9th February 2019
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Anne Nixon at 08/02/2019 - 21:04
Sprinkler systems are a disaster waiting to happen. Smoke detectors can go off for no reason, just imagine the soaking a property would get if the sprinkler system went off. And it will. Its not a question of if or when, but how many times.


Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Police blamed for allowing Anarchy to rule in the PRS

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More