30 Jan 2020

A landlord in bath was fined £10,000 plus £4,000 costs and given a criminal record in Bath this month for not licensing her HMO.

We see cases of this every week and the “going rate” is around £12,000 for not licensing an HMO. 

But that is only the start.

To ‘obtain proof’ that you are operating an unlicensed HMO, the councils often effect dawn raids turning up 6 or 8 of them at 5am without notice. Just like the drug busts you’ve seen on TV.

In some areas we know they turn up wearing uniforms that make them look like the police. They then threaten the occupants with legal action or jail if they do not let them in. 

Once they are in they obtain proof that the numbers of people there mean it is an HMO (5 or more persons in a mandatory licensing area, 3 or more persons in an Addtional HMO licensing area). Someone has a partner staying-over? Tough you’re now guilty until proven innocent!

Then, once they are in they conduct a HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) assessment when they WILL find Category 1 and High Category 2 Hazards. And they will find them even if they’re not really there because like the butcher they always lean on the weighing scales and over-score things like a damaged aerial socket as a “severe electrical hazard”. 

From this HHSRS they will then issue Civil Penalty Fines, not under due process from Part 1 of the Housing Act (which gives you time to sort the issues out), oh no, they use The HMO Management Regulations – simply because they can issue immediate Civil Financial Penalties once of their biggest revenue streams! So this sees the landlords fine go up to £60,000 and we have cases where they’ve made it £150,000!

But that’s still not all. They will then inform your tenants that, because you have been operating an unlicensed HMO, they are entitled to apply for a 12 months’ Rent Repayment Order – so that’s; probably another £30-40,000 its going to cost you for not having a HMO license. 

Hot to avoid this.

  1. Make sure your HMO is licensed. (If it is not licensed but should have been for heavens sake don’t self-incriminate by talking to the council – get professional representation because they cannot incriminate you and they have the experience to fight them, which you do not.)
  2. Make sure you HMO is fully HHSRS compliant by having a private audit undertaken and then do the remedial works ASAP
  3. Make sure you have a valid Fire Risk Assessment as well as Gas Safety, EICR, PAT, EPC etc

If you need help with licence application, private HHSRS, professional Fire Risk Assessment…

Or if you’ve already had any sort of Notice from the council and need immediate Representation get in touch with us ASAP  

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