HMO alert

Local authorities are cracking down hard on landlords who own Houses in Multiple Occupation and who are ignoring the law on licensing.

The law, in force since April 2006, states that owners of houses of three or more storeys let out to five or more individuals forming at least two households, must obtain licences.

Now a Derby landlord faces prosecution for not having a licence, and 350 other suspected HMOs in the city are to be visited in a blitz by council officials

Local authorities are cracking down hard on landlords who own Houses in Multiple Occupation and who are ignoring the law on licensing.

The law, in force since April 2006, states that owners of houses of three or more storeys let out to five or more individuals forming at least two households, must obtain licences.

Now a Derby landlord faces prosecution for not having a licence, and 350 other suspected HMOs in the city are to be visited in a blitz by council officials.

Landlords of HMOs who let out their premises without licences face being fined up to £20,000, with Rent Repayment Orders taken out against them, which could mean losing up to 12 months of rent covering the time when the property was illegally let.

The precedent was set by the prosecution of a landlord in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, who was fined £18,000 and forced to pay back thousands of pounds of rent to student tenants - who had not even complained about the property or its management.

Owners of HMOs are also warned that, without licences, they lose the right to terminate tenancies under the usual Section 21 procedures.

The licences have proved controversial, with councils having a widely varying scale of charges and with some authorities bringing in licences for other forms of HMO.

Property investors new to the HMO sector, which chiefly includes student lettings, are urged to take professional advice.


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