Landlords advice for alleged breaches of HMO laws

Lucinda Dore Solicitor can assist Landlords accused of any the draconian laws affecting the management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

It can be difficult for Landlords to keep up to date with their ever changing legal requirements. We are often approached by landlords who were either unaware that they were committing legal offences or require assistance to prepare their best mitigation for court to achieve the best possible outcome.  Most offences are dealt with by way of a Fine which can lead to many thousand – we can help you to reduce the amount of fine by preparing your own personal mitigation using our expert knowledge and experience.

Many landlords do not appreciate the implications of breaches which can lead to prosecutions in the criminal courts.  A conviction for a HMO offence can have serious implications for future HMO licence applications which require a ‘fit and proper’ requirement to be met by applicants.

We can also help businesses who need guidance to explain the relevant laws to ensure offences are not committed in the first place.

What is a HMO?

A HMO is a House in Multiple Occupation rented to at least 3 people who are not from the same household (i.e. family) but have shared facilities such a bathroom and kitchen – often referred to as a Houseshare.

Many council’s require landlords to have a licence to operate a HMO.

These licences usually last for 5 years and have conditions i.e. that the house is suitable for the number of occupants, the manager of the property or agent does not have a criminal or record of previous breach of landlord laws or code of practice.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) offences

Section 72 Housing Act 2004 – HMO without a licence or in breach of a licence

Being a person having control or management of a HMO without a licence when required to have one or failing to comply with the conditions of a licence granted.

These offences are punished by way of an unlimited fine.

We can help you establish if you have a defence of reasonable excuse for non compliance.

Section 234 Housing Act 2004 – Failure to comply with council Managing Regulations 

Councils may impose regulations to ensure satisfactory management arrangements and standards of management are observed (for example in respect of the repair, maintenance, cleanliness and good order of the house and facilities and equipment in it). 

It is an offence to comply breach these regulations.  It is a defence to prove that you had reasonable excuse for failing to comply.

Do I need Planning Permission to rent out a HMO?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 grants planning permission for a change of use from C3 single dwelling property to C4 House in Multiple Occupation.

However, Change of use of a C3 dwelling property (used by a single person or family) to C4 House in Multiple Occupation (up to 6 unrelated individuals) will require Planning Permission if the council requires, having enforced an Article 4 Direction under the Town and Planning Act 1990 (amended) that removes the permitted development rights for change of use from C3 to C4.  More and more councils are enforcing Article 4 Directions – particularly if there is a large number of HMOs in the area. 

We can help you find out if your intended HMO use of a property requires planning permission or a licence.

For advice in respect of any HMO offence contact Lucinda Dore who will be happy to help 03332420691