Sussex University Exempt from HMO licensing???

Sussex University Exempt from HMO licensing???

12:39 PM, 1st October 2014, About 10 years ago 10

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I did wonder what a council’s view is with (say) universities who actively broker and refer students to local Landlord’s and then the LL then turns out to be an unlicensed HMO, this surely puts the Uni on the hook?

So in the spirit of finding out I did some additional HMO research and this blew my mind – if you have an family house in one of the 5 designated wards let to students in the city of Brighton you need to get additional HMO license….. but if you sublet / lease this property out to Sussex University then you as the property owner do not need a licence. Sussex University Exempt from HMO licensing

What is jaw dropping is the fact Sussex University, who now let the property to students in these 5 wards, don’t actually hold a license and don’t need one according to BHCC because they are nice/decent and proper people!

What exempts Sussex Uni from the housing act is unclear, not sure what standards or things they’ve shown the Council to get this privilege but there you go.




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John Frances

13:55 PM, 1st October 2014, About 10 years ago

"What exempts Sussex Uni from the housing act is unclear, not sure what standards or things they’ve shown the Council to get this privilege but there you go."

The Housing Act 2004; schedule 14, paragraph 4, link below:-

exempts certain educational establishments from licensing subject to attached Statutory Instrument


chris wright

14:21 PM, 1st October 2014, About 10 years ago

Thanks John for the links, BHCC were very vague and gave no good account of the situation, so what we now know is, if the property in question is leased to the university via it's chosen management property company there is no need to have a HMO or additional HMO licenses. The huge unfairness here to all decent LL's or LA's in the UK is that it doesn't matter if you undertake the self same accreditation or meet the same standards as the company the Uni are using you will not be allowed the same exemption and will be on the hook for HMO conditions and will face the criminal sanctions if you breach them.

Linda Price

14:41 PM, 1st October 2014, About 10 years ago

Thoughts? Lots!! but mainly unprintable!

After just paying out £800 for yet another licence, plus £900 for the electrician to tell me my electrics were in order, £100+ for the alarm company to do the same and the gas man wanted £240 for his bits of paper. Oh, and I mustn't forget the police check for my maintenance manager as well.

I did want to start putting insulated wall boards on the external walls of this property to help with the horrendous heating bills, as I'm fed up waiting for the green deal that is going to help me with that - but that will have to wait now until I get over all this expense.

Its not as if the council don't know us, as we have a total of 6 licensed HMO's in the Newport area, plus we attend most of the landlord meetings the council put on and always go to them for guidance to make sure we are doing what they want when we go for anything new. The similar properties that we have in Cardiff are not required to be licensed.

After losing the HMO I was trying to buy earlier this year (not licensed as it had been run by the council and they don't need one for their properties!) I viewed a fair few that were honestly appalling, but all proudly showing off their HMO certificate in the hallways. So what on earth is it all about? Getting money off us easy targets is my guess.

chris wright

14:53 PM, 1st October 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Linda Price" at "01/10/2014 - 14:41":

Interesting post, however i fear its worse than that Linda - there is going to be massive fall out in this sector, LL's need to make informed choices and understand the risks they are running and hedge themselves against threats to their liberty and livelihoods - it is a far from level playing field.
Please drop me a line


Mark Crampton Smith

16:14 PM, 1st October 2014, About 10 years ago

We let and manage over 170 licensed HMOs and when the whole licensing debacle was on the horizon here in Oxford, I seriously looked into forming a separate company and registering as an educational establishment. Coming as I do from an educational background, it would in fact have been relatively easy. I was then going to claim that we were engaged in teaching students how to live in a house, and charge them a fee for the "tuition". It seemed like a lot of work at the time, but now I do regret not biting the bullet!
Educational establishments do have to ensure that their accommodation is compliant with UUK code of practice ( and will have to meet certain minimum standards (largely in line with HHSRS guidelines) so there is no escape in reality.

chris wright

16:37 PM, 1st October 2014, About 10 years ago

You hit the nail on the head Mark - you saw that going down that route means you wont ever be facing criminal records and fines for running your properties and let me say that is the correct and wise business choice; reducing risk to your liberty and livelihood by either reorganising or using University management is the only way forward here. The complaint/standards bit is a moot point as I’m sure all yours meet the best standards anyway - but what price is too high to have a golden ticket indemnifying you from being prosecuted. You’ll spend a shed load defending HMO prosecution should it come your way. As seen here in this case -

John Daley

12:17 PM, 2nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

Having read the details of the Leicester case, the landlord who was running a large HMO which had a range of structural safety faults and appears to be a mandatory licenseable HMO, and so should have been licensed since 2006 was fined just over £2k

If he charges £100 a week for the rooms he makes £25 k a year. Are we supposed to have sympathy for someone who runs a dangerous letting and evades his legal duties deliberately ?

Educational Authorities and Social Housing providers are exempt from licensing because their activities are governed by other authorities and they have to meet the standards of the other regulatory bodies. The costs and administrative berdens of compliance are far greater than local authority licensing.

chris wright

12:30 PM, 2nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "02/10/2014 - 12:17":

They are greater fees but in exchange you get zero chance of being charged with criminal offences or fined £20k or losing you're entire portfolio - seems like a sensible business decision for decent landlords to take when faced with the alternatives.

John Daley

12:44 PM, 2nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "chris wright" at "02/10/2014 - 12:30":

Hi Chris,

You can only be convicted if you have broken the law. You'll only be fined if you fail to licence. Landlords are not made to let property but they do have to comply with the law if they do.

Has anyone ever been jailed on a licensing charge ? The fines are minimal compared to the rental income in large parts of the country

And, if you don't comply with the Academic and Social housing regulators they can close your business and transfer your assets to another, better managed or better funded provider.

chris wright

14:05 PM, 2nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

Never said anyone was jailed did i? It’s a matter of public record he broke the law - he was off being a busy globe trotting Prof and despite thinking the Letting Agent he paid was doing the work i.e. sorting out the day to day management, compliance, repairs etc / negotiating with the tenants - the council have done both of them - as is their right under the law, a trial is pending for the LA who say its not their fault.

I don’t hold out much hope for their chances and lets not forget this is serious stuff as it may close their business, not sure what exposure they have with HMO clients so they might solider on with vanilla lettings or sales if they lose that side of the business - anyway the same situation for a family home let in Newham or any SL area would make closure a certainty as the council could remove fit and proper staus, so bye-bye all the vanilla PRS lettings work. (the) agent IPS says "fully trained staff with over 100 years of combined experience in the property market." - What would you suggest should happen to them?
Would you like to see larger fines than the ones on the table already - you seem to suggest the prof was rolling in money (not sure what his mortgage is or the annual net profit) rich or not the court had some leeway in calculating, they could have done him for more but kept it low and gave a conditional discharge as they saw the effect it would have on his international life / work and probably gave some credit for the guilty plea, maybe they have one eye on the LA - not sure if they face exactly the same charges.

So what about the dilapidation and lack of license as seen here in comparison to the worst examples like where bad management cause deaths – the Leicester result is (so far) it almost ruins one mans reputation, his life’s work and threatens the employment of a local business and all their staff come January. In situations where 6 people are killed by botched council refurb’s – as far as I can tell no charges are brought and no-one is in the dock, i could be forgiven for thinking just how bad does it have to be before there is equality in letting property.

Complying with good standards is desirable, all decent landlords will - but they will also seek to reduce risk to their portfolio and lessen personal exposure to criminal records - the bar has been raised by councils through licensing and there will be a huge shift to avoid prosecution by the vast majority of UK’s HMO landlords and those under Additional or Selective schemes.

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