Tag Archives: HMO Licensing

Looking to get into property investment or expand your portfolio? Buy to Let Property Hotspots, Latest Articles, Property For Sale, Property Sales & Sourcing, Property Sourcing, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Back in September 2013 I wrote an about an HMO investment opportunity which could be of interest to people wanting a relatively low risk, low hassle investment so far as property goes. It was a sponsored article and every enquiry raised funds to help support the running costs of Property118. Interest levels were reported to be very high and a sufficient numbers of enquirers went on to purchase these investment to prompt the company to ask us to re-run the article. Looking to get into property investment or expand your portfolio?

You should, of course, do your own due diligence before committing to making a purchase though as we do not take any responsibility for any purchase decisions you make. I’ve used the same PR creative for the deal below where you can request a PDF document containing a lot more details. Please note that the PDF document will usually be sent to the email address you provide within two working days although we are not in control of this process.

[display_iframe src=”/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Keystone118-NEW.html” height=”1060″]


Councils lose Court cases over HMO licence fees HMO's & Student Lets, Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Three cases have recently been tested in the Courts whereby Councils have charged more for HMO licensing then was reasonable.

There are rules to prevent Councils using HMO licensing to raise funds for other activities.

Hemming v Westminster City Council: The case outlines the type of costs that councils can recover through locally set licence fees and the processes councils have in place to ensure fee setting is transparent and open to scrutiny. The key issue addressed was whether the fees set by Westminster City Council complied with the requirements of the European Services Directive 2009 and the interpretation of Article 13(2) of the Directive. The Services Directive also makes it clear that licence fees covered by the Directive can only be used to recover costs and should not be used to make a profit or deter service providers from entering a market. Councils lose Court cases over HMO licence fees

Crompton v Oxford City Council: The power to charge fees in respect of HMO licensing is found in s63 of the Housing Act 2004. Importantly, this power is granted in respect of licence applications only. Oxford City Council has sought to charge a fee for the variation of an HMO licence. The Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) ruled that the fee was unlawful and that it could not be charged.

Bristol City Council v Digs (Bristol) Ltd: The defendant was the private landlord of a maisonette in multiple occupation. The council brought a prosecution for failure to obtain an HMO licence and for breaches of the HMO regulations. A District Judge at Bristol Magistrates Court tried the preliminary issue of whether the maisonette was a licensable HMO. It extended over two storeys of a building with a further entrance corridor and hallway on a lower storey. The council included the lower storey in deciding that the HMO extended to three storeys. The Judge held that having regard to Article 3 of the HMO (Prescribed Description) (England) (Order) the maisonette was not an HMO. The council had been wrong to include the lower storey. In the light of that ruling, the council offered no evidence and the defendant was acquitted.

In the wake of these rulings the NLA is asking all local authorities in England to contact any affected landlords, informing them of their right to appropriate refunds and providing details of how they may make a claim.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said:

we have asked local authorities to come clean about the level of fees they have charged private-landlords, if they were entitled to make these charges, and when they will refund any money unjustly demanded.

Mr Lambert went on to add:

“In writing to all local authorities in England we’re acknowledging the good working partnership many private landlords have with town halls, but making clear they should not be absorbing the costs of overcharging to support other council functions”.


Thought provoking HMO and selective licensing question HMO's & Student Lets, Latest Articles, Question of the Week, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

The importance of my question is that, depending on the answer, it may be a way for landlords to bypass requirements for HMO licensing,  selective licensing and the problems associated with article 4 restrictions.

Yes it’s a simple question but with enormous consequences and to my knowledge the question has never previously been asked.

Just suppose a landlord rents a 5 bed three story town house to Mr X and gives him permission to take in up to 4 lodgers.

Does the property require an HMO licence?

Please bear in mind the landlord will never actually know how many lodgers the tenant has taken in and the number will change frequently.

To my knowledge there is no legislation to suggest that a tenant can’t also be a resident landlord.

I have checked the legislation and whilst I accept I might have missed something I can see nothing to answer this question.

Thought provoking HMO and selective licensing question

I raised this question on the HMO Facebook Group and so far I’ve not got a clear cut answer there despite several responses and comments

I look forward to reading your comments below.


Enforcement not legislation – PRS Hit Squads Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

There is already more than enough funding and legislation to police the Private Rented Sector.

The last thing we need is more legislation, what everybody wants is enforcement and word on the street is that we could begin to see it before the end of 2013. Ben-Reeve-Lewis

PRS Hit Squads

The authorities all know who the real criminals are and the only reason the criminals are still in business is because those holding power don’t combine resources, in fact they rarely talk to each other. Until now they have all run scared of “data sharing protocols” but when that’s put to one side expect to see some very big cases of criminal landlords being taken to task.

I have heard that PRS Hit Squads will target known criminal landlords between now and Christmas and are supported “in principle” by the likes of Mark Prisk, Boris Johnson and others who openly admit to not being fans of the licensing model being operated in Newham. I’ve also heard that six figure funding for a trial has been agreed at ministerial level.

These “PRS Hit Squads” as I’ve labelled them will comprise of:-

  • Environmental heath
  • HMO licensing
  • Planning
  • Anti social behaviour teams
  • EDF revenue
  • Building contol
  • UKBA
  • Police

The plan is that they will share intelligence and converge on criminal landlords in a military style operation, focussing on the worst operators first of course. With their combined resources the criminals will not stand a chance. It will be like a man with a pea shooter trying to fend off the SAS 🙂

Beware the Spin Doctors!

My hope is that the PR outcome of the PRS Hit Squad successes will be positive and support the need for the model to be extended nationally. It is a very low cost model and the results should save the tax payer money as well as improving peoples lives (unless you are one of the targeted criminals of course!). The last thing the PRS needs is for the successes to be used as justification for more regulation. The spin doctors will see this as an opportunity to justify schemes such as Newham but this must not be allowed to happen.

Landlords can be victims too

Landlords are also the victims of criminals and I have seen some very sad examples of that. A recent case in the Fens involved a landlord who let his former home to a Gang-master. Unbeknown to him the unregulated Gang-master then allowed 20 immigrant farm workers to live in the property, all sleeping on mattresses on the floor. When the landlord found out he obviously wanted them out ASAP, as did the neighbours of pretty culdesac in which the landlords 4 bad detached property was located but the law stood in the way. Had the landlord been able to go to the authorities, secure in the knowledge they would fight for him, it would have been a Godsend to him. Instead, the authorities are threatening the landlord and not the Gangmaster! Clearly common sense isn’t that common.

Let’s hope the PRS Hit Squads are successful in taking down criminals and then lend a much needed helping hand to landlords who are also targeted by criminals. If common sense prevails we might just see more action and less talk. When all is said and done, more is said than done, but fingers crossed let’s hope that not the case here.

The Highland Fling

Earlier this year the Scottish Association of Landlords reported that landlord registration in Scotland has cost landlords £11.2 million in fees while the start-up Scottish Government grant for the scheme was £5.2 million. According to the results, since 2006 there have only been 40 rogue landlords identified as operating in Scotland, that’s the number of rejected applications. The cost equates to £400,000 per rogue identified!

Summary

The schemes in Newham and its copycats also show signs of being similar “White Elephants”, therefore I’m pinning my hopes on the PRS Hit Squads taking down as many criminals as possible, proving once and for all that it’s more enforcement not legislation we need. Enforcement not legislation - PRS Hit Squads


Subletting Scams – why landlords are afraid to report them Cautionary Tales, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Many landlords are fearful to seek help from their local authorities in terms of dealing with subletting scams.

Just imagine this, you’ve jst let your nice little three bed house to Mr & Mrs Lovely and their two perfect children, only to find out that 10 of their family have also moved in. How would you feel?

Subletting scams can also go a stage further. Mr & Mrs Lovely may never actually move into the property, they simply cram as many immigrants in as possible (sometimes illegal immigrants) and charge them all a rent and make a huge profit.

The landlord then has numerous concerns including:-

  • Mr and Mrs Lovely fail to live up to their name and stop paying rent, but they continue to collect it
  • wear and tear on the property
  • noise related issues affecting neighbours
  • will their landlords insurance still be valid
  • fire safety
  • HMO licensing
  • and so the list goes on.

You would think that a quick call to the local EHO (Environmental heath Officer) should sort the problem wouldn’t you? So far as I’m aware, EHO’s have every right to close the property down if they consider it to be a danger to human life, through overcrowding for example. In such circumstances, that’s exactly what many landlords actually want to happen. What they don’t want is to spend several months going through the Courts to obtain possession order, which under the circumstances they will inevitably obtain but at what cost to themselves and at what risk to human life in the meantime?

Whilst any legal action is ongoing the landlords property is probably getting ruined, they may not receive rent, the neighbours get very upset and the landlords ends up with a huge bill.

The fear of reporting such problems runs deep. Will the local authorities use the problem against the landlord? Will they take pictures of the property and use them in their anti-landlord propaganda to justify licensing schemes? Will the local authority press charges against the landlord for the state of the property, which may well have been perfect when they first rented it to Mr & Mrs Lovely?

In many cases, inventories prepared by landlords are not up to scratch so the fear of reporting problems is that tenants will claim the property was a death trap from day one and the landlord becomes a victim twice over!

I am hoping that any TRO’s (Tenancy Relations Officers), EHO’s (Environmental Health Officers) and others with the powers to actually do something about this will comment on the problem as well as landlords and letting agents. Subletting Scams - why landlords are afraid to report them

 


Nearly Legal SEO Discussion Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

This Twitter discussion with Nearly Legal will make the lawyers reading this smile, and hopefully a few more business think a bit deeper about SEO and the true value of the internet.

To download your copy of my SEO Made Easy PDF document please complete the form below.Nearly Legal

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Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

The alternatives to Landlord Licensing Schemes require joined up thinking, changes to data sharing protocols within local authorities and revised high level directives and strategies which must begin at Government level. 

Perhaps the first question to ask is what is Landlord Licensing all about? Is it really about raising standards or is it more to do with raising funds?Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes

Funding

If society as a whole desires that people should not be subjected to sub standard housing conditions then society as a whole must pay to enforce this (howsoever that might be done) whether the money is raised at a local level or centrally.

It is both unacceptable and wholly undemocratic that landlords should be singled out by Government, Councils and Local Authorities to pay stealth taxes badged as licensing fees on the pretence that the money will be used to fund enforcement related initiatives.

Costs associated with licensing schemes imposed on landlords are funded through increased rents. Neither landlords nor tenants want this, particularly as there is clear evidence (demonstrated in this article) that landlord licensing schemes have proven not to be an effective solution to problems in the Private Rented Sector.

Recycling of Court awarded penalties

The high costs associated with prosecuting criminal landlords is borne by Local Authorities, however, fines and penalties go to the treasury. If these funds were to be redirected to the prosecuting authorities this would assist funding of additional prosecutions and create incentives to bring more criminal landlords to task. Continue reading Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes


Best practice for LANDLORDS (e-news compilation) Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

If in doubt ASK

Learning from other peoples experiences is often far more cost effective than making mistakes of your own! Advice on forums is no substitute for professional advice because comments and opinions are not insured.

HOWEVER, discussion can lead to ideas which you may not have previously considered and can often point you in the right direction, even if only to point you to the right person, piece of legislation or to find out how others have dealt with similar issues. The easiest way to communicate with other landlords and letting agents, without even having to move away from this screen is ….. read on

Landlords Calculator

Not only does this calculator make it very easy for you to analyse a property purchase you are considering, it is also useful to run the numbers for properties you already own as well as explaining industry jargon in simple terms.

Start running your numbers click here

Making life a bit easier for yourself

Time is money, knowledge is power and protecting yourself can be crucial. Why is it then so many landlords choose to self-manage when they don’t own enough of properties to justify the time required to be fully clued up with everything they need to know?

Perhaps they think they are saving themselves money? Well that depends on what they are basing figures on of course. The most cost effective way we know of to manage rental property is.. read on

Selling properties with tenants in situ

This can be a win/win for sellers and buyers. From a buy-to-let investor point of view we find landlords welcome the fact that they are getting rent from day one and have no need to set about paying rental agency fees to locate tenants.

From the sellers perspective, keeping tenants in situ also has the added benefit that properties tend to view better when lived in, provided of course the tenant is reasonably tidy. Where do 10’s of thousands of investors go to buy tenanted properties though? read on

Landlords Life Insurance Calculator

You can’t take your property portfolio with you when you “pop off” but unless you’ve done your planning right you loved ones might not be able to keep the properties either.

Read why here and use our Landlords Calculator to crunch some numbers to work out a cost effective way to minimise the risks of leaving your loved ones in a financial mess as well as an emotional mess. read on

Problem Solving

This Property Podcast explains some very basic principles to help you resolve any problem.

Listen to Podcast click here

Understanding HMO Licensing

This 8-page guide is a simple but authoritative explanation of HMO regulation.

If you have anything to do with HMOs or are just interested please read on

Member Profiles

We have had some excellent suggestions about the option we created last month for readers to create member profiles. We have now introduced a premium upgrade for businesses which would like to promote their products and services to Property118 readers in a subtle way. Don’t worry, we are still not allowing advertising!

Member Profiles remain FREE to set up and as all comments left in discussion threads link back to member profiles we see no reason not to allow businesses to add their company logo, telephone number, email address and a link to their website to their member profiles should they wish to do so. This should also encourage more businesses to engage in discussions and to help other readers as it will give them more exposure to their member profile. Everybody is a winner! see members


Birmingham City Council – “We support good landlords” Latest Articles, The GOOD Landlords Campaign, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Birmingham City Council - “We support good landlords”Birmingham City Council have sent a strong message to landlords who let in the city – We support good landlords

Senior officers of the city council have been in discussions with the West Midlands Regional Representative  of the National Landlords Association (NLA)  since 2011 when HMO licences were about to come up for renewal but it was not until the NLA proposed a radical new approach to the fee structure that progress was made. Continue reading Birmingham City Council – “We support good landlords”


Renting by the room: Understanding HMO Licensing HMO's & Student Lets, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property News

Renting by the room has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, as savvy landlords realise that yields for this type of tenancy are much higher than for plain vanilla lets. With the current housing crisis, and the dearth of lending for first time buyers, young people are priced out of purchasing their first property and are taking to renting for longer. With rents rising, shared housing is one of the few affordable ways to live in prime city centre locations. Continue reading Renting by the room: Understanding HMO Licensing


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