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See you in court! Angry landlord denies HMO licensing charge

An angry landlord has appeared at a magistrates court to deny a charge relating to local council licensing. 

Local media report that Pavlos Chatzinopoulos, of Swindon, appeared at the town's magistrates court accused of being in control of an unlicensed HMO.

Under rules introduced in 2018, anyone managing a house under multiple occupation by five or more people who are not related to each other must have a licence from the council.

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Swindon council claims that Chatzinopoulos, a live-in landlord at his five-bedroom house, was operating an unlicensed HMO after being told of the need to purchase a £1,050 licence.

Chatzinopoulos denied the claim, citing a passage of the Housing Act.

A date for a full trial will be fixed later.

 

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    This looks interesting...

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    Good luck to him. These licensing schemes are just another way of squeezing money from private landlords. In our local area (Charnwood,Leics.) the proposed scheme will put money raised back into... the administration ! Why not use the money raised for supporting schemes for the homeless instead of another layer of bureaucracy?

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    Can't wait to see Paul Barrett's comments on this one!

  • Serge Ali

    Landlords are now just cash cows for the government and councils. Landlords are the back bone of rental accommodation in the UK. The government can now deal with all the people knocking on their doors.

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    • 14 October 2020 12:39 PM

    As far as I am aware ANY property where there are more than 4 unrelated occupiers requires a Mandatory HMO licence .
    That means compliance even in a normal home.

    So the answer is to get rid of a 5th occupier to leave 4.
    Quite simple really.

    The regulations are clear.

    Any live-in LL should always check with the Council if he and 4 unrelated occupiers will occupy.

    It will usually be the case that the Council advises no more than 4 including the LL.

    No hardship really.

    But if the LL has a partner then no more than 2 lodgers would be permissible.

    I believe LL are getting confused with households and occupiers.

    The law is quite clear when it comes to Mandatory HMO licensing.

    So a family of 3 could only have 1 lodger.
    Any more would require HMO compliance.
    Few LL would wish to start complying with room sizes etc.

    Having 3 lodgers only really works if you are a single LL.
    Fortunately I am.

    The problem here is that in a 4 bed property with a couple and child could only take on one lodger leaving a spare room unable to be used by another lodger.
    So a wasted asset.
    Mind you with WFH that would be converted to an office.

    As long as nobody sleeps overnight in it it can be used by anyone.
    A 'guest' wouldn't count as an occupier either.

    So if there is no official connection with the property then guests are permitted subject to certain restrictions.

    But it will be an interesting case as far as lodger LL are concerned.

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    I was really rather hoping for the words feckless tenant to be in there somewhere.

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    • 14 October 2020 18:51 PM

    As you should be aware no live-in LL should be dopey enough to issue AST to LODGERS.

    LODGERS ARE NOT TENANTS AND SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN AST'S.

    The lodgers here are under the direction of the live-in LL.
    No allegation of rent defaulting is being made against the LODGERS.

    So none of them can hardly be feckless.

    The lodgers are potentially the victims here.
    It is the LL that is possibly the feckless one in allowing more occupying lodgers than should be the case if the LL wishes to avoid Mandatory HMO licensing.
    Potentially what is happening is two or three family members are occupying as a household plus 4 other unrelated lodgers.
    That makes 7 occupiers in total.
    If a household is counted as one occupier and there are 3 other unrelated occupiers then that is 4 occupiers.

    But if the LL has got this wrong then he is the feckless one!

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    He is wasting his time he going to get done anyway only twice as much he must know that by now, its a bit like the protection rackets of the 60's where some pubs had to pay gangsters or they would put them out of business. HM0's are complicated I believe more than 4 is mandatory HM0 I have those unfortunately. Then they have Selective Licensing, I think they select an area, 4 persons again I think, maybe 2 households / 2 couples, can also be 3 households but maybe 4 total subject to room size & space. Then they have HM0 Additional Licensing Schemes which looks to me like the Mandatory HM0 but if you are all related don't be worrying about anything you'll be fine the rules are are made to suit you, its rubbish or course it should apply to everyone or no one, (some LL's are more equal before the Law than others).

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    It depends whether or not any of the lodgers has another permanent address elsewhere or are only Monday-Friday lodgers. If so they are guests not lodgers, even if they pay for the room.

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    • 14 October 2020 21:01 PM

    Yep if it was me I would be checking with the Council what licensing schemes are in force.
    I believe many lodger LL will be caught out by these new licensing regulations.

    It would be appropriate therefore for LL to to check what hypothetical circumstances might be.

    Of course these new licensing regimes will negatively affect lodger LL which invariably mean lodgers are forced to vacate.

    We really have reached the stage where clarity is required as to how LODGERS are regarded as far as licensing requirements are concerned.
    If matters aren't clarified we could see lodger LL evicting lodgers so as not to need licensing.
    This will be vastly detrimental for LL and lodgers alike.

    Additional Licensing is the stupidest licensing as it could affect a property with just one lodger.
    I believe all these licensing schemes were originally designed to deal with tenants.

    Unfortunately lodgers are now being involved which has the very real potential of undermining the Govt RFRA which was meant to and does so very successfully in persuading homeowners to take on lodgers to provide a more effective accommodation solution than renting from a normal LL etc.

    Multiple lodgers in one property face the very real prospect of being booted out so that a homeowner doesn't have to comply with any licensing regulations.
    Of course a rather big impediment to more than two lodgers is lenders usually allow only two and some won't allow lodgers at all.

    The issue of lodgers also brings in HMRC who are pursuing tax on short-term letting.
    When does a tourist become a lodger if at all?
    It is all becoming a rather tangled web and I believe Govt should restate the RFRA rules and change them to ensure they ONLY apply to proper lodgers.
    The tax free allowance was never meant for short -term letting tax avoidance.

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    Paul, the rule of 4 doesn't;t always apply (So the answer is to get rid of a 5th occupier to leave 4.
    Quite simple really).

    We have additional licensing for all HMOs, so anything more than 2 unrelated sharers = licence

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    • 15 October 2020 08:53 AM

    Yep I believe there are ambiguities such that I wouldn't make a move without checking with the Council what their regulations are.

    It is the Council where the property is that has to be satisfied with relevant live-in LL arrangements.

    I'm far from confident in what a Council would permit so I would ALWAYS check with them first.

    What concerns me is that the RFRA was introduced to encourage homeowners to take in lodgers now seems to be potentially undermined by licensing regulations.

    If homeowners become aware that they may have to bother with licensing etc they invariably just won't bother taking on lodgers.

    There is simplicity in the lodger concept that encourages owners of 4 bed properties to take in lodgers especially when the kids have flown the nest.

    Homeowners are invaluable in supplying accommodation for LODGERS.

    I can see many homeowners being put off from taking on lodgers which is really the last thing that Govt wants to occur.

    Personally I believe a homeowner should be exempt from all licensing and requirements and that ALL lodger income should be tax free.

    There wouldn't be many homeowners prepared to have more than 2 lodgers anyway.

    These would be family homes after all.
    Perhaps to avoid all these silky licensing schemes a homeowner just has to register with the Council that they are a lodger LL
    The outcome of this court case could have enormous ramifications for the lodger industry.

     
  • Van bon  Nguyen

    The leaking money to local government pocket and Destroy most investment and Property business . Soon no one like to be a landlord in UK . Soon no one like to investment in business in Uk ? It is true . It is the ways to make money from the local government not because they want to protect the tenant . As the tenant have to pay high rent as the land lord pay to much ?

  • Zak Khan

    There are some loophole in this HMO
    And Pavlos may win this case if he can prove that the lodgers are living there work purpose and not there main resident lots of landlord pay millions without knowing that if the lodger has an address where they pay there bills and categorie as main resident somewhere in Romania, poland and comes to uk to work and this is not there main resident then this LL will win his case for sure.

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    • 15 October 2020 15:23 PM

    Stretching it a bit with a home outside the UK!!

    But technically you could be correct.

    But as with everything it is the Council that decides.
    Cross a Council at your peril.
    There are only too willing to crucify LL of all types

     
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