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 4 years ago 21

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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!

Ross



Comments

by Dr Rosalind Beck

12:42 PM, 22nd May 2017, About 4 years ago

All my shared houses have lounges and in many cases they are not used. I would think it is a mad idea to insist on them in London where space is at such a premium.

by Ross Tulloch

13:04 PM, 22nd May 2017, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Rosalind Beck" at "22/05/2017 - 12:42":

Thank you, I agree. But we are heading, sadly, to situation where an enormous quantity of rooms across London will have to be permanently unoccpied. HMO regulations should not include room sizes That should be up to the tenant

by Luke P

14:56 PM, 22nd May 2017, About 4 years ago

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

Given a free choice -which tenants are when searching the entire marketplace (but in the case of these individual tenants in this individual property)- I would be very surprised if the collective result was anything other than no living room/4 persons/lower rent rather than having a living room.

In my vast experience, almost all house-sharers like to keep themselves to themselves in their own rooms. It's not like a family (for a start they will all have different television preferences) and live very separate lives -they often have no interest in congregating together. Bedroom; kitchen; bathroom. That's all they want.

Also, don't assume that all of these people are living there permanently as their only home. They may live elsewhere -even own their own house- but are happy to pay (reduced) rent for a basic, even small, place to lay their head whilst they work in the capital, rather than commute...

by Kathy Evans

17:42 PM, 22nd May 2017, About 4 years ago

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

Lived like that for years when I was younger. *shrug* Even had a bedroom that everyone had to walk through to get to the kitchen. Probably wouldn't be legal now. But many owner occupiers have to turn the living room into a bedroom if they have too many kid or an aged parent. Saves having to socialise when you are a geek.

by Darren Peters

20:56 PM, 22nd May 2017, About 4 years ago

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

You are making a lot of assumptions about the property and the tenants. We went from our first 2 bed vanilla flat to a 3 bed 'HMO' as the tenants weren't really using the living room. They were more than happy to have a reduced rent and an extra tenant in the living room. Bit patronising to consider them 'poor tenants'. They made adult decisions and are a bit better off.

The typical demographic of my inner London tenants is such that they don't sit around in the evening watching Coronation Street together but use London as their living room. They meet friends at bars and cafes or have work do's or go to the gym. Living rooms are disused & collect junk in my experience too.

I would live in any of my properties and have lived like that. I wouldn't like to have the local council as my landlord though. Shame they don't apply the standard they set us to themselves...

The mindset is more akin to staying in a hotel in an interesting city for work. You wouldn't book a week in Paris or even a 6 month placement in a hotel and pay extra for a living room you don't need.

And yes, nearly everyone in London would like a bit more space just as nearly everyone would like a better car/bike/job/more money. 'Would like' is not really an argument for anything.

The two main factors in housing demand are in the realm of government, local and national. Ie population and housing supply. Successive govts are enjoying moral hazard, they don't build the housing needed for the increased population they believe is necessary. Yet the private landlord somehow gets the blame for crowding and demand. Soon to come we'll probably get rent controls because that's a good way for the government to divert blame towards landlords without addressing the underlying problem. Ie even if landlords can afford to supply their properties cheaper that won't make the properties more accessible, all the rooms will still be full.

by Tim

23:02 PM, 22nd May 2017, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ross Tulloch" at "20/05/2017 - 09:25":

Hi Ross I have to agree we let properties with and without front rooms and I have to say often tenants do prefer not to have a lounge / communal area as it keeps their rent down i.e. Their is a slight surcharge but the cost can be split over 4 not 3 people.

It is the councils, governments and media stigmatising landlords again and not actually listening to what tenants want mostly good quality property and cheap rent and they are prepared to lose the communal area to save rent if they are not they simply take the accommodation with communal areas. Normally when communal areas are lost bedrooms are bigger anyway.

When I was a student we even did away with communal areas ourselves it's no different to sharing a room with your partner to split the rent then paying your housemates extra on bills to cover the extra person.

However getting back to point I have known of cases like yours won at tribunal. If you can get your tenants to sign a letter explaing the situation and confirming they are happy with the living arrangement as it saves them money then you have a good argument. Ps if their is room for a small table in the kitchen better still.

In this day and age with shortage of space / homes and a growing population it seams ridiculous to me how councils are preventing sharers living their own lives as they please.

by Tim

23:03 PM, 22nd May 2017, About 4 years ago

Hi Ross I have to agree we let properties with and without front rooms and I have to say often tenants do prefer not to have a lounge / communal area as it keeps their rent down i.e. Their is a slight surcharge but the cost can be split over 4 not 3 people.

It is the councils, governments and media stigmatising landlords again and not actually listening to what tenants want mostly good quality property and cheap rent and they are prepared to lose the communal area to save rent if they are not they simply take the accommodation with communal areas. Normally when communal areas are lost bedrooms are bigger anyway.

When I was a student we even did away with communal areas ourselves it's no different to sharing a room with your partner to split the rent then paying your housemates extra on bills to cover the extra person.

However getting back to point I have known of cases like yours won at tribunal. If you can get your tenants to sign a letter explaing the situation and confirming they are happy with the living arrangement as it saves them money then you have a good argument. Ps if their is room for a small table in the kitchen better still.

In this day and age with shortage of space / homes and a growing population it seams ridiculous to me how councils are preventing sharers living their own lives as they please.

by Dr Rosalind Beck

1:15 AM, 23rd May 2017, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tim " at "22/05/2017 - 23:02":

Yes, it would seem that they prefer tenants to be out on the street rather than have any in a room which is slightly below an arbitrary minimum size. Street or smaller room? Uh, which do I prefer - especially on a rainy night?

by Robert Mellors

15:09 PM, 27th May 2017, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Rosalind Beck" at "23/05/2017 - 01:15":

Many of my residents were rough sleepers when I re-housed them, so they already know that a small room is much better than freezing on the streets (and facing abuse, physical attacks, being robbed, spat on, etc, which often happens to people sleeping rough). They also know that the Council is quite happy to leave them to suffer on the streets and definitely will not house them. My residents have gone from street homelessness, to having a home (albeit with shared facilities) from which they can start to stabilise and re-build their lives and can eventually move on (when they are ready). Sure, it would be ideal if they could all have big rooms, plus communal lounges as well, (or just get a self-contained flat of their own straight away), but the world is not ideal so we have to deal with the reality of what is or isn't available and affordable.

by Dr Rosalind Beck

16:21 PM, 27th May 2017, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "27/05/2017 - 15:09":

Yes, and if a Housing Association provided identical accommodation to yours, it would be applauded as wonderful housing of the homeless. When we do it we are slagged off for trying to cram people in, cash in on Housing Benefit etc. This whole nonsense has to stop some time soon as it's got ridiculous.


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