Subletting can lead to unlicensed HMO

by Readers Question

10:30 AM, 24th August 2015
About 6 years ago

Subletting can lead to unlicensed HMO

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Subletting can lead to unlicensed HMO

Imagine a 3 bedroom family house is let to a small family – a couple and a new born child for a very nominal rent of £900 per calendar month, excluding bills and CT. Later on they move downstairs into a large living room and make that as their bedroom, they then sub- let each of the three rooms upstairs, two double rooms and one single room, double rooms pocketing them £500 pcm each, and a single room pocketing them £300 pcm, so total rent collected from sub-tenants amounts to £1300 pcm, and the rent paid to landlord £900.subletting

Hence the couple not only are now living for free, but also making a profit of £400, admittedly some of this will go towards furnishing and bills, but the landlord doesn’t know that his property is being sublet to such an extent that he may face stiff penalties from the local council for allowing his house to become unlicensed HMO. Not only that, but his property does not meet strict fire and safety regulations and 30min self closing fire doors, should this be found out by the council, where do you think the landlord stands?

Could the council say that it is the landlord’s responsibility to keep an eye on his property and not to allow it to become an unlicensed HMO, but then you stumble across privacy law, where a landlord cannot just butt in any time without giving his tenant a notice, and if he gives a notice, his tenant could well cover up his tracks and possibly claim that additional occupiers are his relatives on a short stay!

Where do you stand? In the middle I guess and get caught both by the Authorities and by the tenant, and suffer extra wear and tear on your property and face overcrowding charges too!

If one was to face this should one ask his tenant to sign a special declaration that he will not allow a 3 bedroom family house to become an unlicensed HMO as it is against the local council rules, and upon being found a house is being sub-let and more than one household occupies a dwelling, the council could bring up charges against any private landlord, for allowing sub-letting, so can a landlord serve a section 8 Notice if a tenant is sub-letting?

Mike

Comments

Luke P

12:46 PM, 25th August 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mike " at "25/08/2015 - 12:35":

See my comment above. I think we must have posted at almost the exact same time.

Mike

12:56 PM, 25th August 2015
About 6 years ago

Thanks Luke, exactly my point, of course as soon as you find that the tenant is abusing your property by sub-letting, profiting out of you, and causing overcrowding conditions, the first thing you would do is to serve him a notice, however, by informing the local Authorities may actually help you in your case to evict the tenant and or force him to evict all sub-tenants, which he can do at a short notice since he would be classed as a living in landlord, so the bottom line I wanted to make was do we get the Authorities involved and notify them as soon as we find out that our property was being sublet and caused it to become unlicensed HMO, that may work better for us as the tenant would be more inclined to take a threat seriously from a local authority for keeping sub-tenants.

Luke P

13:35 PM, 25th August 2015
About 6 years ago

I don't think the LA will do much more than hound you to make sure it's either properly licensed or you've kicked everyone out. What I'm saying is don't expect any sympathy from them but do expect them to pester you and want the world from you (despite fighting an uphill battle through the Courts to legally evict them). The LA won't care that it's hard work for you and that it's costing you a small fortune.

Mandy Thomson

14:05 PM, 25th August 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Luke P" at "25/08/2015 - 13:35":

I'm afraid Luke is right - all the LA will care about is ensuring that none of these "tenants" become THEIR responsibility to house or cause a nuisance to the neighbourhood. They will also be inclined to come down on you like a ton of bricks if the property is subject to additional or mandatory licensing.

I would use both Section 8 AND Section 21 (assuming, as I said before, that you're not within the fixed term period of the AST). I would also be inclined to get really good legal help (advisable in any case with Section 8 except for straightforward rent arrears). Rogue tenants can be extremely cunning and will do all they can (using the law and other means) to fight the eviction.

You, as "head" landlord have no direct contract with the additional occupiers, but if you can be reasonably sure that your official tenants are living at the property (or at least use it as their main home and spend some nights there) as you've correctly said, this makes the occupiers the licensees of your tenants (i.e. lodgers) and as that licence was created without your consent, it's only good while the lodger landlords (your tenants) continue to live there. From your perspective, it's fortunate that this is the case - had they had a tenancy, getting them out would be much more difficult: http://nearlylegal.co.uk/2014/01/confederacy-of-dunces/

Mike

1:20 AM, 26th August 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "25/08/2015 - 14:05":

Thanks again Mandy, it is for this reason that I asked my tenant to sign a special declaration or take an explicit undertaking that he will not sub-let any part of my property other than allowed to share the costs with one other member of his close family like his nephews or an uncle, and no one else, and also I need to enter his nephew or his uncle's name and other immigration details. If I find him subletting I am going straight to LA and report him and also send them a copy of that special undertaking signed by him and reminding him that if he sublets, he would be effectively turning a family house into an unlicensed HMO, which is very much against the LA rules and he could end up putting me in a difficult situation with the LA, and I could face a fine of up to 20K for allowing him to sub-let, and so to protect my interest, as soon as I find him subletting, he will be served with a section 8 notice and will be evicted.

Puzzler

3:28 AM, 26th August 2015
About 6 years ago

I don't think I misunderstood, I was just pointing out that two storeys is not a licensable HMO in most areas. Regards to your other questions, I would go through the eviction process as soon as possible.

Luke P

10:42 AM, 26th August 2015
About 6 years ago

The signed agreement will be good evidence to provide the LA, but ONLY if they come to you. Don't go to them because all they will do is give you grief. You've done half of their job for them. I currently have over three hundred tenants and I have only let their property to the persons named on the agreement, which also mentions they are to not sub-let. I cannot hope to know what each and every one of them choose to do beyond that and so (despite not having a sub-letting problem locally) would let the LA do the digging and inform ME when there's a problem. Other than that, I as the owner and landlord have done all I should.

If I have a tenant dealing drugs from one of my houses and only find out through the Police, I am not the one in trouble and still have to act in accordance with tenancy law.

Don't panic. If you're that concerned, then I wouldn't have this chap as your tenant at all.

Rudolph Banton

12:11 PM, 29th August 2015
About 6 years ago

My tenant sub-lets claims housing benefits none rent payments. Went through the courts eviction process dates appealed locks changed on doors. Tried to reason with tenant, I was ignored. Eventually got a locksmith changed locks gave tenants seven days to collect belongings. Huge amounts of bills letter not opened found.

Central heating system not working, water leaks in ceiling, damaged walls, filthy carpet with stains, holes drilled through upvc doors front and back, freezer in shed in garden with internal wire cable leading from indoors, dogs urine smells in all rooms, roof tiles broken etc!

Instead of tenant and her daughter contacting the landlords to get their belongings they broke in through the upvc triple glazing of the back door...came well prepared with tools 15/815. Poiice called by good neighbours tenant and daughter got arrested. We were called at approx 03:05am by the officer stating the tenant has broke in and the central heating system turned on and water is gushing and they are unable to turn off the system! We went turned off central heating system and gave evidence.

The CID Investigating visit our home to asked more questions with the tenant and daughter sitting outside our home in their vehicle as if they were the victim...so it seems!

Arrangements made with CID The tenant and daughter wished to come and collect their belongings 28/8/15 at 16:00 hours two officers were present! Rent, court fees and expert representative fees owing are huge. Yet they had smiles on their faces and being so brazen. I shouted at them you are not going to get away with this. Then I was told by the officers to returned to my vehicle or be reported! I did but fuming

This cannot left to go on where you are trying to do the right thing throughout your life by working and do some investment for the family future. Then you have these HMO supported by their council's to destroy it all! Then the legal system drawn out and seems to favour these illegal acts!

Reason: 23/4/15 at county court the tenant and daughter were given to 4/8/15 to attend county court with representative and expert witness. The tenant and daughter walked into court alone. The Judge gave the tenant another two months to find representatives and expert witness again!! What a load of hog wash I thought

Sincerely

Rudolph.

Mike

1:12 AM, 30th August 2015
About 6 years ago

Feel absolutely gutted for you Rudolf, I had a very similar experience, and lost potentially 18K in lost rental income and spent 10k in renovations.

I hope you have added their details to bad tenants or tenants from hell register, for other landlords to avoid taking on these undeserving tenants, whom law protects at every corner, much rather keep my property empty than to rent out to such plague tenants. But even that we can no longer do as LA come after you for keeping a property empty and can impose double CT and CPO.

Rudolph Banton

8:14 AM, 30th August 2015
About 6 years ago

Mike thank you! My intention is to use the legal bailiffs/sheriffs to make their live as uncomfortable as I can for the next six years, once loose ends are tied up in court! These insects has no care who they infected with their bite. They are legally supported at the landlords expense through court fees and legal aid!

This tenant and daughter looked at us as if they hated us. I asked myself what did we do wrong why would they dislike us so intensely! At times it's as if you feel the stab of a sharp object from the tenant! They seems to be supported to expect a huge amount of something for nothing. Committing fraud with a smile of legality!

Sympathize and feel for you also Mike!

Sincerely

Rudolph.

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