HMO Split

In simple terms, where a property is occupied by five or more persons who form two or more households, the property is an HMO and requires a licence from the local authority. Controlling or managing an unlicensed HMO is a criminal offence, subject to a defence of “reasonable excuse”.

In Barker v Shokar [2024] UKUT 17 (LC) the landlord was the owner of a “large rambling London townhouse”. The property contained four rooms, each of which was let to a separate individual. Those people shared a communal bathroom and kitchen. There was also a separate part of the building at ground floor level. That part had its own lockable door behind which was a self-contained flat with its own sleeping, living, cooking and washing area in which two people lived. One of the occupiers of the four rooms applied for a rent repayment order, contending that the entire property was a single, unlicensed HMO as it was occupied by six people who formed two or more households. The First Tier Tribunal agreed and made a Rent Repayment Order.

The Upper Tribunal allowed an appeal, holding there were two separate properties. The four rooms with shared facilities were one property whilst the self-contained flat was another. They were physically separate and did not share cooking, washing or living facilities. Accordingly, there was not one property in which six people lived, but two properties with a 4-2 split.

 

Oliver Kew

Published on 26/01/2024

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