HMOs and Selective Licensing
After the Housing Act 2004 introduced a new definition of an HMO, all the three storey Galliard-built houses in Marcia Road should have been registered as HMOs if they were let to five or more unrelated people. From 1 October 2018 the three storey element of the definition has been removed.
Furthermore, in 2016 Southwark Council introduced a Selective Licensing Scheme and ALL landlords in the road (and some surrounding roads) had to register, even if their house is let to a single person or household.
It is vital that landlords understand their general legal obligations including those for HMOs. Locally, these are now overlaid with Southwark Council’s own regulations.
Apart from other legal implications (see below), the council has powers to dish out severe penalties on landlords who do not comply!
These are complex matters and if you are not confident that you are up-to-date, it will be worth seeking specialist professional advice. The following article is a good reminder of responsibilities when it comes to HMOs. HMO Legislation (Property118 site)
If you require reliable work people to make adaptations (e.g. spotlight upgrade, installing fire resistant strips around doors, etc.) see the Recommended Tradespeople page.
There are some important things that government or council sites don’t tell you…
Becoming an HMO may affect one’s landlords’ insurance, so you need to check and amend that if necessary.
Furthermore, as part of the HMO licensing process, the council is required to inform other stakeholders in the property about the application. That includes not only joint owners but your mortgage company too.
This has caused problems for some landlords because many buy-to-let mortgages exclude HMOs. So the notification from the council has the potential to trigger a withdraw of the mortgage for a breach of the conditions, especially if you are on a cheap mortgage that the lender would like to change for a more expensive one. It is worth checking your mortgage conditions and, if it looks like there may be a problem, talking to your lender before the council’s notification reaches them.