If you are a landlord or thinking of becoming a landlord, you will need to be fully appraised of local authority requirements which, if they are not strictly followed, can lead to prosecution for a criminal offence.

Under the Housing Act 2004, a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) is a property in which, depending on the local authority area, 3 or more people reside in a property forming 2 or more households. If you are the landlord of a house of multiple occupation, it is necessary to obtain a licence from the local council. This licence will set out how many people can safely live in the property and any maintenance work required on the property prior to it being let to tenants.

Before embarking on becoming a landlord, you will need to know whether your property falls within the definition of an HMO, which is not always obvious, and therefore, whether you need to obtain a licence and show that you are a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold such a licence. It is a criminal offence, not to obtain a licence if your property is an HMO.

The refusal to grant a licence or having your licence revoked for failure to comply with the licence can cause a great deal of disruption and financial stress for any individual or business letting HMO’s. We understand that having your licence granted or reinstated as expeditiously as possible is extremely important and we will endeavour to ensure that this happens.

If you are being prosecuted for failing to comply with the terms of the licence or failing to respond to section 235 notice requesting information about the property, it is imperative that you seek legal advice immediately. The financial penalties for failing to comply can be significant in addition to orders requiring repayment of rent so it is extremely important that you are advised as to whether you have a defence to the allegations. For example, it may be that you did not in fact manage and control the property at the time or you had a reasonable excuse for the failure. Such a defence may lead to your case being discontinued or being found not guilty at trial. If no defence is available, we will focus our efforts on obtaining the most lenient penalty in the circumstances.

If you need advice about your obligations as a landlord or have received a notice requesting information, or a summons notifying you that you are being prosecuted, call our office or email us with your enquiry and our skilled team will guide you through the process so you can be confident of your position.

A House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) is a property in which, depending on the local authority area, 3 or more people reside in a property forming 2 or more households.