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HMO Landlords: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Des Taylor, a HMO Licensing and Compliance Specialist and HMO Landlord, comments

Over the past year we have seen Mandatory HMO licensing increased in scope to include all properties with five or more occupants, where they belong to two or more households. Since then we have seen a dramatic increase in prosecutions, civil penalty fines and Rent Repayment Orders against Landlords.

Many landlords, doing their best and running what they believe to be good HMO operations,  are oblivious to the fact that a licence is even required. But, as we all know, ‘ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law’.

We have a growing number of people being influenced by YouTube and property promotional events, to rent properties and then re-rent them as serviced accommodation (hotel) rooms or HMOs, while having little or no regard for the requirements for housing act compliance, planning permission or licensing. Ignorance of the law, again.

Most landlords do not realise that local authorities have become extremely powerful. We now find case after case where Councils are using nigh-on military and espionage type tactics in order to secure prosecutions or, increasingly, apply civil penalty fines (which the council gets to keep).

The most terrifying thing for people like myself - working in compliance and defending portfolio and small landlords against the authorities - is the startling number of cases where the severity of the situation has not sunk in. Each of these landlords is the alleged perpetrators of one or more crimes committed by breaching HMO licensing and/or HMO management regulations. 

They need to wake up! These are severe criminal matters and the fines are enormous. 

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