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Edinburgh landlord stripped of HMO licence but maintains Airbnb listing

An Edinburgh landlord has been stripped of his HMO licence after he caused flooding to a neighbour’s property, but he has been allowed to continue to use the property as an Airbnb.

Edinburgh City Council’s licensing sub-committee refused Mr Tahir Ali’s renewed HMO application for his flat on Clerk Street after councillors heard complaints over flooding and anti-social behaviour, all whilst building work was carried out on the property without proper permissions.

Catherine Scanlin, the council’s licensing manager, told councillors that the objection, by Graham Muir, was due to a “breakdown in the relationship with the owner of the property” and that there “seems to be a history of flooding into another property”.

Mr Muir, who runs a laundry cafe below the flat, said that as many as 11 people stayed in the flat at any one time, despite having a capacity of just five.

It was also confirmed by building standards officers that en-suite showers had been installed in the flat “without permission” after a building warrant application was refused.

Mr Muir told the Edinburgh Evening News: “The shop has been flooded on a number of occasions. The ceiling caved in and it’s now propped up with scaffolding. It’s a complete disaster. There are people coming and going all the time, there are junkies that get in. He refuses to help – he’s just not bothered. He’s not a responsible person – it’s a ghost hostel.”

A ghost hostel or hotel is where an unsupervised property has each room let out individually without adhering to regulations required by law.

Mr Ali argued that Mr Muir “has had it in for me since day one” and insists on “sticking his nose into everybody else’s business except his own”.

Mr Ali did admit that he shouldn’t have carried out the work on his property without securing permission. He said: “Applications have been submitted. In hindsight I should have waited but because the workmen were in place, I carried on. Nothing is illegal, everything is above board. I offered to do his ceiling up and he said he didn’t want my ‘cowboys’ going in there.”

He added: “It’s not a hostel, it’s a HMO – it always has been. The current situation is that it’s let as an Airbnb holiday let. There have never been 11 people, not to my knowledge – and I manage the premises.”

The property currently has one permanent resident, while the remainder is let out as Airbnb-style short term lets.

Licensing officials told Mr Ali that he does not need any planning permission to operate as an Airbnb.

Source: Scottish Housing News

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Students win rent refund from unlicensed landlord

Five students from Leeds have won a rent refund from their landlord who failed to acquire a House in Multiple Occupation licence (HMO).

Ben Leonard, a postgraduate student, and his four housemates found out their home didn’t have an HMO licence when their landlord applied to Leeds City Council for one halfway through the tenancy.

A HMO must be held by any home occupied by five or more unrelated people who share communal facilities, with at least one tenant paying rent. It confirms the house has the correct safety certificates, that fire alarms are present and working and whoever is in charge of the property is qualified. It also confirms that the landlord does not have a criminal record.

Landlords who don’t have a HMO face fines of up to £30,000, including repaying up to 12 months of rent to their tenants, via a rent repayment order (RRO), which is what happened to Leonard’s landlord.

A housing officer from Leeds City Council informed the tenants that the council was taking action against landlord and explained that they were entitled to seek an RRO.

The tenants made their application, which included evidence of paying rent, bank statements and the tenancy agreement, which was accepted and the landlord was taken to court. He pleaded guilty and, after bills were deducted from the amount owed, as well as a further deduction due to the landlord’s financial situation, each tenant was owed around £2,000.

‘Incredible response’
After winning the case, Leonard told the BBC he received an “incredible” response on Twitter earlier this month. He was inundated with messages from other tenants who felt their landlords might have cases to answer.

The case coincides with the government’s announcement two weeks ago that they plan to repeal Section 21 of the Housing Act (1988), which allows landlords to evict tenants at the end of their fixed-term, and put an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions.

The change in the law would, the government said, “protect tenants from having to make frequent and short notice moves, and will enable them to plan for the future.”

Written by: Max Liu

Source: Your Money

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Haringey Council additional HMO licensing

Between 11 December 2017 and 5 March 2018 Haringey consulted on a borough wide Additional Licensing Scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). As with most other new schemes Landlords will be required to have a licence if they rent to three or more people from two or more households starting 27th May 2019.

The the Council say the schemes “have been designed to improve the condition of private rented homes, reduce anti-social behaviour and support landlords by providing guidance and support.”

The proposal is to introduce:

A borough wide Additional Licensing Scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and a Selective Licensing Scheme applying to all private rented properties in 29 defined areas across the borough

“We’re committed to providing residents who wish to rent in Haringey with good quality, safe accommodation which is managed by responsible landlords or letting agents. This means working with landlords to create a more professional rented sector, and tackling those who mistreat or fail to provide a good, safe home to their tenants.

“To help achieve this, we have introduced licensing for all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) so that more landlords will have to hold a license before they can let out their homes. These licenses require landlords to keep their homes in good condition and ensure high standards of management, or risk enforcement from the council.

“On 12 February 2019 Haringey Council designated the whole borough subject to additional HMO Licensing. The scheme becomes operative on 27 May 2019 – anyone found to be operating an unlicensed HMO after this date will be committing an offence and will face enforcement action.”

For the Haringey licencing page click here

“How can I apply

We are currently working on introducing an online licence application and payment system. This is currently not available, so applicants will need to complete a paper application form until further notice.

All the information you need to apply for an Additional HMO Licence can be found on the Apply for a HMO licence page.

What is the cost of Licensing

The Licensing Fees have been amended and will now be taken in two stages.

  • A £500 fee will be paid on application a further £600 fee will be taken before your licence is issued
  • The total fee for licensing an HMO is £1,100

Further charges and discounts may apply to your application. See the Information on HMO licence fees and licence periods (PDF, 54KB) for further information.

Apply early and receive a discounted early bird licence fee

A financial incentive is available for compliant landlords – apply for an Additional HMO Licence before 27 May 2019 and pay a discounted Licence fee payment of £500.”

Source: Property118

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HMO licence granted despite complaints of students throwing faeces out window

Councillors have renewed a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence despite a neighbour complaining about students throwing human faeces out of a window.

The city council’s licensing sub-committee agreed to grant Arden Property Management a renewed licence for a property in Thirlestane Road, but only for an extra six months, after neighbour Charles Stokes spoke out – claiming the company were “not a fit and proper organisation to hold a licence”.

Mr Stokes, who lives below the flat in question, claimed Arden were “falling short of their statutory obligations”.

The neighbour told councillors there were instances of tenants smoking, a failure to display licensing notices properly and students throwing “human waste, faeces, out of the window” – as well as noise complaints.

He added: “We feel ignored, we feel patronised and we feel our objections are not taken seriously.

Their selection and management of tenants is poor and this has led to incidents of anti-social behaviour as recently as October 2018.

“Arden staff do not treat neighbours with respect. If Arden chose good tenants it’s fine, if they don’t it is ghastly.”

Mr Stokes also hit out at the company’s “chaotic financial systems” after claiming neighbours were still waiting for payments for shared repairs from August last year.

The current tenants have lived at the property since June 2017 and police were called on 13 September 2017 and 19 March 2018 to reports of antisocial behaviour.

Cllr Scott Arthur quizzed the company as to why the students were allowed to remain in the property. He said: “I see this as quite a serious situation. Given that the police attended the property twice, you still decided to renew that tenure.”

Michael McDougall of TLT Solicitors, representing Arden, said the allegations of human excrement being thrown from a window were not reported to the company at the time.

He added: “There have been two or three complaints about noise. We found the incidents did not require tenancies to be terminated. Arden are working hard to deal with concerns expressed by objectors. Any complaints made are always taken seriously and investigated.”

Councillors were torn over whether to believe the neighbour or the company’s side of the story. Regulatory convener, Cllr Catherine Fullerton, called for the application to be granted for one year.

She said: “There’s only been one recorded incident to the police last year. People cannot make no noise at all but they should not be making noise that causes other residents problems. “Having heard what the agent has said, I’m confident the agent is taking this seriously and putting in place steps to mitigate this in the future.”

But Cllr Neil Ross urged the application to be turned down as there were “a number of doubts cast” over the suitability of the company to manage the property. Cllr Cameron Rose proposed that the application was approved for just six months, which the committee backed.

He said: “I do not accept everything Mr Stokes has said. We have a number of areas where there are direct contradictions on the emergency number and the repairs. We have heard that the applicant is willing to look at getting a new agent. I think there’s enough doubt here to grant this application but for a very restrictive period.”

Source: Edinburgh News

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City landlord licensing charges set to increase

The price of a landlords’ licence in Nottingham is set to go up after plans were approved today.

For houses with more than four tenants, landlords in most areas must obtain a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence.

For ‘less compliant’ landlords, the price of a licence will go up by £810, from £910 for a new licence to £1,720.

‘Standard’ landlords will pay an extra £420 for their HMO licence – up from £910 to £1,330.

Landlords with accreditation will pay an additional £80, up to £990.

Previously, there was a flat fee for HMO licences, but from January next year, those who will pay the most will be those deemed ‘less compliant’, meaning those who are ‘consistently non-compliant or provide a poor application.’

It is the first change in the price of a licence since 2014. As with selective licensing, the council cannot make a profit from the scheme.

A leading Nottingham property expert said the cost will have to be passed on to tenants and would hit those at the bottom of the ladder hardest.

Giles Inman is from East Midland Property Owners, which represents around 600 landlords and 150 agents in the city.

He said: “The cost of it all is just getting silly. We weren’t kept in the loop or given any advance warning. There was just a consultation and we didn’t hear anything back, and then all of a sudden we’re informed that they’re going up. We never expected it to go up by this much.

“From a landlord’s perspective it’s just crazy and it’s come out of the blue.

“It’s just them raking in the cash. They already have the powers to deal with the less-compliant landlords without charging them more for an HMO.

“The costs will be passed on. We’re a business at the end of the day. I know the council thinks we should take the cost ourselves, but no business does that.

“So it will be passed on one way or another, and it’s the tenants on housing benefit and at the bottom of the ladder who will be most impacted by that.”

The revised licence fee will now be made up of two payments – one at application and one when the licence is issued.

Each licence can last up to five years, as long as the conditions of the licence are met and no other offences occur.

Councillor Jane Urquhart is the city council’s portfolio holder for planning and housing, and represents the Wollaton East and Lenton Abbey ward for Labour.

She said: “This scheme, along with others, is a major part of our plans to improve all types of private rented housing in the city.

“We believe something as important as providing decent and safe housing should be monitored and kept in check via a licensing scheme in the same way as taxis, pet shops and some beauty treatments.

“Not only does the scheme help to improve poorer standards of accommodation, it means tenants know what is expected of their landlord in terms of the management of their home.

“It also helps us to tackle rogue and bad landlords by providing a clear set of guidelines which all landlords need to meet, and helps prevent bad landlords cutting corners or ‘undercutting’ good ones, creating a level playing field for all.”

Source: West Bridgford Wire

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​Deadline to new HMO licensing approaches

Agents and landlords are reminded that new rules about the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) are set to come into force next month.

All properties housing five or more people from two or more separate households will be required to have an HMO licence, from Monday October 1.

At the moment, a property with five or more tenants from separate households only requires an HMO licence if it has three or more floors.

The new legislation – which was first announced in December – will also see minimum space requirements updated.

From October, the minimum bedroom space will be 6.51 square metres for a single bedroom and 10.22 square metres for rooms occupied by two adults. Rooms housing children aged ten or below will need to be a minimum size of 4.64 square metres.

Landlords will also be required to provide an adequate number of bins for their properties.

The cost of HMO licences varies depending on the local authority, with some charging a few hundred pounds and others charging more than £1,000.

An HMO licence is valid for five years and landlords need a separate licence for each HMO they let.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has said that the new rules are being introduced to minimise rogue landlords taking advantage of increased demand for HMOs.

It says that the previous system meant that it was ‘pot luck’ whether a vulnerable tenant ends up renting from a rogue or good landlord.

The aim of the new rules is to reduce consistent rental property problems, including overcrowding, failure to meet health and safety standards and housing illegal migrants.

Fines for non-compliance with HMO licensing rules are unlimited, while failure to comply with minimum bedroom sizes could see a landlord fined up to £30,000.

Source: Simple Landlords Insurance

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HMO Licence Rule Changes On The Way

HMO licence rule changes are on the way as the criteria for properties that need an HMO licence becomes broader.

At the present time you are only required by law to obtain a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence if the rental property is:

1) Rented to five or more people from more than one household

2) At least three storeys high

3) Having tenants using the same facilities

Though individual councils are able to set further rules.

However, from the first of October this year, any property occupied by five or more people from two or more households will be considered an HMO, regardless of its height or the available facilities.

Anyone managing a property that is considered to be a House of Multiple Occupation needs to apply for an HMO licence.

HMO managers need to be considered a fit and proper person to hold an HMO licence.

The property will also be required to meet further safety obligations with regard to fire, gas and general safety, and the property must be considered suitable for the number of tenants living in it.

Minimum room sizes will also come into play in October. Bedrooms occupied by a single adult will need to measure a minimum of 6.51 square metres, while those occupied by two adults will need to measure 10.22 square metres or more.

Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.

In Scotland and Wales, regulations are slightly different. An HMO is any property rented by at least three unrelated people who share bathroom, toilet or kitchen facilities. Your responsibilities and obligations in Wales and Scotland for running an HMO may also vary.

In addition to the new HMO regulations introduced nationwide, many councils are introducing further landlord licensing schemes, so it is important for all landlords to check local regulations.

Source: Residential Landlord

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If you rent a home, your landlord may need a licence!

Tenants, landlords, and neighbours are being urged to alert the council to licensable properties. From 1 October 2018 all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) rented to five or more unrelated people must have a council HMO licence.

As things stand, a licence is only required if the property is three or more storeys high, but the law is changing this.

Landlords seeking an HMO licence will need to demonstrate to an Environmental Health Officer that the property meets national safety regulations.

The law change is designed to make sure that rented shared houses and flats are of a good standard and are safe to live in.
The council will be conducting inspections of properties over the coming months, and as of 1 October any landlord renting out an HMO without a licence will be committing an offence and could be subject to a large fine.

Those knowingly avoiding applying for a licence could be banned from renting out properties altogether.

Cllr Kim Caddy, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Don’t leave it to the last minute – any landlord who rents out an HMO without a licence after 1 October will be committing an offence. We’re also asking tenants, neighbours or anyone else who thinks a property could be licensable to get in touch.”

Source: Putneysw15

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Council urged to “rethink” Fife town’s HMO policy

The findings of Dr Ross Brown’s study suggest that the growing levels of ‘studentification’ in private residential areas and HMO policy changes could be having a significant impact on residential areas of the town. It says that this could lead to lower levels of owner-occupied properties, restrictions in housing for local residents, house price inflation, and an increased tension between the university and local residents.

The study follows data released last month, which showed that since 2011 Fife Council had issued 753 HMO licences within St Andrews. Speaking about the findings, Dr Brown said: “Large concentration of HMO within the local housing markets can have highly complex and counterproductive effects for local communities.” He added that this could have: “Longer term implications for the long viability of public services, causing feels of anxiety and disempowerment with in the local community.” Dr Brown said the partial moratorium implemented by Fife Council could be having “unintended negative consequences” and called for an “urgent rethink”. He said: “It should impose a comprehensive moratorium across the whole of the town on new HMOs. With the exception of student housing and halls of residence, no further private sector HMOs should be licenced until the council has devised a proper, coherent and evidence-based planning and housing strategy for St Andrews.”

Helen Wilkie, housing manager for Fife Council, said: “A moratorium was introduced in St Andrews town centre in 2011 and in 2016 we commissioned an independent assessment of this approach. “In January we’ll be holding a workshop with councillors to look at the consultants’ findings and explore options for the future. We hope to report to committee with proposals as early as February.” The council added that while the moratorium means no new planning applications for HMOs are granted in the town centre, existing licences have to be renewed every three years or re-issued to new owners who buy a licenced property. Each licence that’s issued is classed as a new licence even if it is for an existing house of multiple occupation.

Source: Fife Today

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Property Portfolio Riddled With Problems Lands Landlord With Fine

A landlord has been landed with a £6,439 fine after four of the homes in his £1.5 million property portfolio were found to pose safety concerns.

Magistrates inspected two of the homes let by landlord Dilip Gohil, 67. They found that they posed fire safety concerns, and lacked escape routes in case of a fire.

Furthermore, none of the homes in the property portfolio were licensed with Nottingham City Council. According to Sarah Mills, prosecuting, the authority sent out letters informing landlords that houses in multiple occupation (HMO) required five-year licences, costing £910.

A three story house in The Meadows was found by council officers to contain seven bedrooms with five tenants who shared a kitchen and a bathroom. The property did not have the correct licensing for a HMO. A second property, also located in The Meadows, had six bedrooms with three tenants, each paying around £70 per week for a room. It also did not have a licence and contained several fire safety threats.

Miss Mills explained to the court: ‘There was a lack of fire doors throughout the property, the kitchen door did not have a handle and could not be closed. There was a fridge stored in the hallway which provided access to the bathroom, kitchen and rear door.’

A further property owned by Gohil was located in Wilford Crescent East. Inspectors found a six-bedroom house without a licence, and with issues such as a kitchen door that failed to close, which affected the integrity of the fire door and its ability to contain fire and smoke for 30 minutes’ according to Miss Mills.

A final house on the street owned by Gohil also had no licence and issues with fire detectors.

Miss Mills concluded: ‘A large refrigerator was in the hallway outside the kitchen. Smoke detectors were not linked so occupants on the first and second floor would not receive adequate early warning in the event of a fire.”

Gohil admitted to seven breaches of the Housing Act and was fined £4,750. He was also ordered to pay £1,519 council costs and a government tax of £170.

John Campbell, mitigating, told magistrates: ‘He has rectified all the matters subject of these offences. He has applied for licences for all the properties. He didn’t need to be prosecuted to leap into action. The purpose is to maintain standards and safety and that has been served.’

Source: Residential Landlord