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Please help re: HMO licensing!!! SIX or above?????


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Dear all,

I'm a new landlord who has a 3 storey property rented out to five students.

One bathroom/kitchen. All in very very good condition (fire doors, new carpets, new boiler, rewired, double glazed etc etc etc).

I've just signed a contract with 5 new tenants for 1st July this year but am horrified to learn that I need a license! (Only horrified as I'm scared I might not get one and thus I'll lose the tenants - the money isn't too much of an issue)

Now the thing is I've learned from one who has many properties and really is in the know, that it's all "bullsh*t" and it's the council trying to get money from us unfairly and we dont actually need a license for 5 people - only for *6* and above: he was very certain abotu it. This directly contradicts what is being said by the council - license required for FIVE or more. Unfortunately I can't really harrass this guy any mroe as he's very busy but he was adamant that it's only really for 6 and above and I'll feel stupid contacting him again to waste his time on this - I already asked over and over if he's sure and he was adamant.

So now I'm very confused.

What's the truth behind it? Do I need a license or not? This guy always knows what he's talking about (he's a multi millionaire). Is there some loophole he knows about?

Any help would be MUCH appreciated!

Other Qs (incase it definitely is five or above):

- I can't apply until mid May apparently and it won't come through (if successful) until July - when these guys will have already moved in. So what'll happen if I'm refused the license... will I have to kick these people out or will they not be so harsh, and let me complete this year's tenancy bearing in mind the unhelpful timing of the licensing application procedure??

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It's 5 or more - definitely - you must licence the property.

If the licence is turned down you cannot evict the tenants - you will be forced to carry out any work that the council deems necessary. You cannot even issue a section 21 notice to get repossession. If the tenants choose to stay that's it mate - and you can't charge rent on an unlicensed property!!!

The penalties for not complying are a fine of up to £20,000 - you should apply immediately - although it will probably be a long time before they get round to issuing the licence.

Now the good news -

If your property is in good condition generally with fire doors, alarms, means of escape in the event of fire, you should have no problems, but get an environmental officer round pronto, to give an idea of requirements. With 6 people I believe you will need 2 bathrooms/toilets and kitchens - so double check.

All this information is widely available on the internet.

Or do what I did, vacate the premises and convert to flats, sell, or anything really, rather than be at the mercy of the local authority.

I'm advising a friend of mine who is having to appeal against an HMO designation - a council officer walked into one of his studio bedsits, glanced round and said 'right, that's an HMO' without measuring, without really looking - now the council - Waltham Bloody Forest want 5 years of council tax paid to them.

Fortunately I know how to deal with them!

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Thanks mate... I have no idea what this guy was talking about then.

Yes it has fire doors etc - in very good nick.

The only thing 2 things:

1 - it has a loft room with velux windows - planning not required, all above board because it's not dormers/ However i'm not sure building regs were made/got/etc for it but it seems to be a very good job. Will this be a problem?

2 - This loft room obviously has no escape other than coming down the stairs to the first floor landing i.e. no outside escape stairs. Do you know if this is ok or do loft rooms definitely need outside escape systems?

Finally how does one get an environmental officer round - is it free?

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AFAIK, a loft room only needs to have a Velux type window on the front elevation, and it has to be of a certain size and at or below a certain distance from the eaves - the idea being that anyone trapped can climb out and be rescued.

The other thing being that the staircase and landing must be enclosed by having fire-check doors all the way down -

If you 'phone your local council and get through to the 'environment' section - I'm sure you could arrange for a visit. With luck the same person will know the requirements - but double check as council officials are notorious for giving false information. Make sure you're dealing with a qualified individual.

It could also be worth speaking to a building control officer regarding the specifications re: the above.

It's probably over 3 floors that you need a fire escape, but a BCO should know - always double check tho'.


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Thank you very much!

Ok, so from what I can tell it's not the case that if building regs weren't asked for at the time of building, it's illegal or anything and it has to be torn down. That's what I was worried about.

If it's just a case of it being quite sensible then I think it should be ok as it has proper velux windows (front and back) and the door at the bottom of the stairs to this room is a proper fire door (just like every other door in the house).

Fingers crossed, I hope I'll be ok!

I'll get someone to come have a look as you suggest.

Thanks again.

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