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Get An HMO Licence – Or Get Fined

Landlords renting out property with multiple floors and tenants are being warned by the Council to apply for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence or face costly legal consequences following a successful prosecution.

Mr James Fallon, of Teignmouth, Devon, was fined a total of £585 plus £15 victim surcharge plus £200 costs by Bath Magistrates for failure to apply for an HMO Licence for a property that he rented out.

The property at 12 Stuart Place, Bath was occupied as a shared house. The Council visited the property December 2011 following a complaint. It was discovered that the property had more than three floors and 5 tenants. The property should have had a licence from June 2010 therefore the landlord had been operating illegally for 18 months.

Graham Sabourn, Council Associate Director for Housing Services, said, “The purpose of an HMO licence is to ensure that landlords are providing their tenants with safe and habitable accommodation. It requires landlords to put in place specific standards, such as for fire safety, which could one day save someone’s life. It is irresponsible for any landlord to think this requirement does not apply to them. The Council took the decision to prosecute because of the length of time the property had been operating illegally.

Another consequence of operating an unlicenced HMO is that tenants can apply to the residential property tribunal for a rent repayment order. The tribunal can order the landlord to repay all, or part, of the rent to tenants for the period the property was unlicenced.

HMOs which require a licence are properties of three or more storeys and that are occupied by 5 or more people living as two or more households. If landlords are in any doubt about whether their property is an HMO they should contact the Council’s Housing Team on 01225 396418 or email housing@bathnes.gov.uk.

Councillor Tim Ball (Lib-Dem, Twerton), Cabinet Member for Homes and Planning, said, “This case serves as a warning to HMO landlords who are not following the rules. The Council’s message is clear. If you ride roughshod over the system in place to protect your tenants it will hit you in the pocket if you are caught. We are here to provide guidance for any landlord who is unclear on the rules. There is no excuse.

Further information about Multiple Occupancy Homes go to http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/housing.

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