Southwark insist I leave a room unoccupied so going to Tribunal – Help!

Southwark insist I leave a room unoccupied so going to Tribunal – Help!

7:56 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago 25

Text Size

HMO License in Southwark insisting I have an empty room. Appealing to tribunal.

I have a flat in Southwark, 3 bedrooms and living room which I refurbished 3 years ago. Have 4 people, each have their own room and the living room is now a bedroom, and very happy. I am having to apply for HMO as all properties like this (2 or more families, with 3 or more people) need license.

The smallest double room has to remain unoccupied, because they say the kitchen ( with breakfast bar for 2 and usual space for cooker, f/f, oven hob washing machine) is too small for 4 and the bedroom (double bed, wardrobe, desk, chair chest bedside, 8.61m) was too small as well.

Now I will only be allowed 3 tenants with I guess a living room, but that will mean with a living room 3 will each pay more. AAArrrrrgh!!!

This I know will mean several of our properties would fail in the same way.

Across London if this comes in it will add up to a huge number of rooms lost, and increased rents.

Does anyone have experience of this? I appreciate that Southwark Council are not interested on doing the right thing, only the rule thing.

Of course HMO licensing should not included room sizes, but that is another story!


Share This Article


Neil Patterson

8:02 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

Hi Ross,

There is excellent RLA guidance on this please see >>

"Can local authorities set binding minimum room sizes under HMO licensing?

The answer to this is "no". However, there are other powers available to the authority because Part 10 of the Housing Act 1985 lays down overcrowding standards applicable to all kinds of property. This, in effect, sets a minimum room size of 6.5 square meters for adults. Any HMO licensing purposes and any local "standard" is now essentially for guidance purposes. It cannot be used as a substitute for the Council considering on an individual basis whether the specific property to be licensed is suitable for use by a set number of occupiers. The decision as to the suitability of premises has to take into account the premises as a whole; not just individual room sizes. Where appropriate to do so the Council can and should depart from the local guidance. Guidance will apply in the vast majority of situations in practice and can be treated as relatively firm by local authorities. Nevertheless, the Council must consider every property on its merits."

Number of rooms Number of persons
1 - 2
2 - 3
3 - 5
4 - 7½
5 or more - 2 for each room

Floor area of room Number of persons
110 sq. ft. or more - 2
90 sq. ft. or more but less than 110 sq.ft. - 1½
70 sq. ft. or more but less than 90 sq. ft. - 1
50 sq. ft. or more but less than 70 sq. ft. - ½

Neil Patterson

8:04 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

Please also see >>

6.5 sq metre minimum room size for HMOs


The Government has proposed a minimum room size of 6.5 sq metres (70 sq feet) for a rented room in an HMO. This is in an effort to stop tenants from being crammed into overcrowded properties and to set minimum standards creating a level playing field for good landlords. This proposal will only relate to… Read more

Neil Patterson

8:07 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

And >>

Room size rules – Council want to issue closure notices!


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… Read more

Ross Tulloch

9:07 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "20/05/2017 - 08:07":

Thanks for this... I wonder how this ended up.

I am sure that no one has done the sums of how many rooms will be lost, how much pain will be caused to the poor renters, and where they will have to commute from to continue to live.

Much appreciate the links.

Charles Mackay

9:22 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

You want to turn the front room into a bedroom?!

Leaving your poor tenants with no communal living area in which to relax and socialise? Do you think this is an acceptable way to live? Would you like to live like this?

No wonder BBC is looking to commission a programme that puts you in the shoes of your tenants.

I am a single property landlord (mortgage free) but reading this site recently has made me start to lose faith in humanity.

Ross Tulloch

9:25 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Charles Mackay" at "20/05/2017 - 09:22":

Except that they love it. They love the rooms, the location, the management and the cost.

They do not have to rent from me, they could find somewhere with a living room if they wanted. And if they could afford it. I have never forced anyone to rent from me, they do so of their own accord. I do not know how well you know the issues facing renters in South London. With a number of properties and 50 very happy renters I think that we do.

Charles Mackay

9:47 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

Would you like to live in a home like this Ross? I'm going to guess no. Then why are you so deluded as to think your tenants wouldn't want a front room?

Gary Dully

10:26 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

I have provided both types of HMO and when given reception rooms they never are utilized, they become dumping grounds for litter, cobwebs and junk.

My tenants are generally older than students and are usually house trained divorced men, who do not want to socialise, they love their arm chair, internet and Telly, (possibly BabeStation), in their own rooms.

It's when they eventually "tap off" with a lady, that they start talking about frilly curtains and cushions and we know they will be leaving after about 4 months.

There is a market for both, just be upfront in your advertising!

# Vote UKIP

Ross Tulloch

11:17 AM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Charles Mackay" at "20/05/2017 - 09:47":

Because they cannot afford or choose not to afford a front room...It is a free country and they can choose. Obviously they save money buy not having a front room.

If a three bed flat with a living room is compared to a similar flat without but four bedrooms the cost per room is less. If you took out all the people living in lounges turned into bedrooms, that would reduce the accommodation in a given area, push prices up and mean they have to commute further.

Do you have much experience at this end of the market? The demand for our rooms is so high that in 4 years across 50 rooms, we HAVE NOT HAD A DAY'S VOID. We have good accommodation that the demand is high.

Mark Shine

12:39 PM, 20th May 2017, About 7 years ago

Personally I would neither choose to rent (when I was a tenant) nor let (as a LL) a property that did not have a separate lounge.

However in another borough where the council have brought in blanket additional licensing, they told me that 2 of the bedrooms in a very popular, spacious & user friendly five bed student property (which had a very large lounge, used as a lounge) were too small to be used. This was due to the fact that although the floor plates initially appeared more than large enough, these two bedrooms were on the top floor with some sloping roofs. Because the licensing officers only include the floor area where the ceiling was above a certain height, these 2 rooms were deemed to be too small to be used or licensed. Tried to reason with the council officer for a long time, but she was not flexible.

I also wonder how many rooms are going to be similarly ‘lost’ across London due to licensing.

1 2 3

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now