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An unwanted HMO – what can the landlord do?

houseHere is a question for the blog clinic from Ibrahim who is a landlord

I am the landlord of a four bedroom three storey house which I rented out to three sharers about six months ago. I purposely advertised it as a three bedroom house to avoid the need for a HMO licence. The fourth bedroom was set aside as a store room.

During a recent visit my agent notified me that the fourth bedroom is now occupied by a couple, meaning there are five occupants. All the occupants are now asking for the couple to added to the tenancy agreement.

Have the unsolicited sharers inadvertently created an HMO, even though they are not official tenants?

I hope you can provide some assistance.

My understanding is that yes, this will have created a licensable HMO, unwanted in your case.

The tenants cannot force you to accept this situation if you do not want it.  So you do not HAVE to accept them as tenants just because they have moved in.

I suggest you write to the tenants saying that you do NOT consent to the occupation of the fourth room.  The residence in your property of the couple is in breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement, and you require them to vacate forthwith.

Serve a copy of a section 21 notice at the same time, so you can evict them at the expiry of the notice period.   Hopefully you have not given them too long a fixed term.

There is no harm in telling them your reason for wanting to keep the numbers down – ie that the continued occupation of the couple will have the effect of bringing the property within the HMO  licensing regulations which you do not want.

Or alternatively you could bite on the bullet, accept that you will have a licensable HMO and agree to the extra couple – but only on condition that the rent is increased to cover the extra wear and tear on the property and the additional costs you will be put to by virtue of having to apply for an HMO license.

Or give them the choice.

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4 Responses to An unwanted HMO – what can the landlord do?

  1. In London, where vacancies and rents are squeezing people it is becoming quite common for more and more people to share.

    People tend to think of HMOs as large seaside B&B type properties but it isnt that simple. I know many accidental HMO landlords who, but for the want of local selective licensing, would find themselves in a pickle

  2. Unfortunately this is a sign of the times. We have had problems with sub-letting even in our 2-bed flats with the lounge being turned into a bedroom and have therefore changed some of our 2-beds to 3-bed (no lounge) over the last 2 years. We have even purchased furniture to ensure there is no room for an extra mattress on the floor! This has enabled us to control the number of tenants living in the property. I fear that, in the case of Ibrahim’s problem, if the present tenants vacate the next tenants may do exactly the same thing. I think it may be time to accept an HMO and reap the benefits.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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