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Houses of multiple occupancy landlords - making your life easier

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UK equality watchdog obtains injunction against buy-to-let landlord

You have done all the hard work, or so you think? You found your ideal property and got the mortgage and the deposit and bought it. Well done; and your conveyancing solicitor was right beside you ensuring that the purchase was successful and now you are ready to be a landlord/landlady. The chances are that if you are reading this you own property in London. You might be a landlord who owns several properties and this isn’t your first property. Hence you could easily be renting lots of rooms in your property to different people. This is quite common in London.

Are you completely sure of the HMO licencing laws and selective license condition? We can assist and advise you through this application process. Selective licencing has been introduced in eight London boroughs. This in essence gives councils wider powers to implement selective licencing in areas with a higher proportion of rented accommodation.

If you have two or more unrelated people living in it whilst sharing basic amenities and at least one person paying rent then that property is defined as a House in Multiple Occupancy (known as an “HMO”). Many landlords unfortunately fall foul of the requirement to secure a licence and are then prosecuted by the council.

Do you control or manage a HMO?

So, the question you should be asking yourself is whether you receive the rack- rent of the premises either on your own account or as an agent or trustee of another person. If you do then you are liable as a person having control of the HMO.

Most of the issues arising in criminal prosecutions is about who is managing an HMO? This is defined as the owner or lessee of the premises who receives rent from persons who are in occupation as tenants. It also includes those landlords who have entered into an agreement with another person who isn’t an owner or lessee of the property and that other person receives the rent on their behalf as an agent.

Can you pass management regulations

It is your responsibility to ensure that there are satisfactory management arrangements in place and satisfactory standards of management are observed. The regulations impose duties on the person managing the house in respect of repair, maintenance, cleanliness and good order of the house including facilities and equipment within it.

Defences

It is a defence if you can prove in any proceedings that you had a reasonable excuse for having control of or managing the house defined as a HMO, or permitting the person to occupy the house, or for failing to comply with the conditions. In relation to breaching the regulations in respect of the management of the premises it is a defence if you can prove that you have a reasonable excuse for not complying with the regulations. 

To be a landlord imposes onerous obligations and responsibilities as set out in the Housing Act 2004. If you are relying on reasonable excuse to shift responsibility to an agent we are in a position to advise you before you are prosecuted to ensure that the management responsibilities would comply with the Housing Act 2004.

This is particularly important in the case of selective licences. Hence landlords bear in mind the regulations and the Housing Act is designed to protect tenants and we can advise you to ensure you do not breach it.

If you are being prosecuted we have a dedicated team of specialist lawyers based in our Central London office who are familiar with selective licence applications and prosecutions. They can represent you during an interview under caution or in court to ensure you are not held liable.

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