Marijana No Comments

Immingham Landlord Fined For Licence Breach On Investment Property

An Immingham private landlord is facing a bill of £1380 after he was found to be renting his investment property out as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without the correct licence.

Yordan Kaloyanov, 37, of Immingham, was taken to court by North East Lincolnshire Council. Housing enforcement officers and Humberside Police raided his rental property and discovered that he had been renting it to multiple people without a licence. The property also contained several other issues.

Upon entering the property it became apparent to officers that several people were residing there. Many of the rooms had multiple beds in them and there were far more shoes at the entrance of the property than there should have been. Although here was no one in the property when officers arrived, it appeared as though some residents had recently left the property as a freshly cooked lasagne and garlic bread was found in one of the bedrooms.

In addition to the licensing breach, the property failed to meet the standards required for a HMO. It had no interlinked fire alarms and there was no evidence that fire alarms worked or had been tested recently. There were also no fire doors, intumescent strips or self-closing arms on the kitchen or bedroom doors. Finally, the property also lacked emergency lighting and exit doors did not have the required thumb turn locks.

Kaloyanov also did not have the required locks to the rear final exit door and the front door of the property. This meant that so that they could be opened from the inside without the use of a key. This did not meet regulations stating that escape routes must be free from obstruction.

Portfolio holder for housing, Councillor Peter Wheatley, said: ‘A large number of local people rely on rented accommodation and landlords are expected to uphold high standards. Unlicensed and poorly maintained houses are not acceptable. Not only are they exploitative in nature, they could also put people’s lives at risk. The Council wants to work with landlords to ensure that they are on the right side of the law. If landlords are unsure of what they should be providing for their tenants, they can contact our housing team via our website for more information.’

Following the inspection, the house was issued with an Emergency Prohibition under the Housing Act. Yordan Kaloyanov was prosecuted and was found guilty of six offences under the housing act and handed fines of £100 per offence. He was also made to pay additional costs of £750 and a victim surcharge of £30.

Source: Residential Landlord

Marijana No Comments

HMO plans for former cafe recommended for approval despite local opposition

Plans to convert  into a 12 bedroom HMO could be given the go ahead next week, despite opposition from local community councils.

Members of Wrexham Council’s Planning Committee will debate the plans to convert the restaurant /café on 79 Holt Road into a ‘one person one room’ house multiple occupancy (HMO).

Plans for a change of use of the property were submitted to Wrexham Council in April 2018.

At present the existing property consists of a restaurant / cafe on the ground floor and five flats on the first and second floors.

A layout plan submitted by the applicant at the time shows that the 12 bedrooms would be be based across three storeys – with five bedrooms and a kitchen on the ground floor, four bedrooms on the first floor and three bedrooms and a smaller kitchen on the second floor.

Despite the plans being recommended for approval by the council’s head of environment and planning, the application has received opposition by both the local community council and by the adjoining Caia Park Community Council

Three objections were put forward by the community council, who say that the proposed use will result in a “very dense and over concentrated use of the site” and that the change of use will “increase pressure on the limited nearby off street parking and may result in vehicles reversing onto Borras Road.”

They also add that: “The proposed HMO and its associated use by tenants will result in an increase in noise and
potential to impact and cause nuisance to other nearby residents due to noise, crime and antisocial behaviour impacting on Community Safety.”

Caia Park Community Council also argue that “given the numbers proposed and the potential for resident’s vehicles it is felt that the scale of development is inappropriate.”

However comments submitted by the council’s highways department say that “the site is served by an existing access with adequate visibility in both directions” and that “it is therefore considered that the proposed development would in theory have a reduced demand compared to the existing dwelling/café.”

The application will be discussed by planning committee members on Monday 4th June at 4pm. For those unable to attend the meeting it will be webcast on the Wrexham Council website.

Source: Wrexham

Marijana No Comments

HMO licensing – the potential pitfalls for landlords

The change to licensing closes off a major HMO classification loophole regarding the number of storeys a property owns.

An HMO is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one household (for example, a family) and who share facilities, including the bathroom and kitchen.

Current guidelines state that a license is only required when the property has three or more storeys and five or more tenants from more than one household, collectively sharing the kitchen, toilet or bathroom.

Updates in HMO licensing

Worryingly, however, these criteria have led to some landlords skirting HMO licensing status, particularly evident in student accommodation where landlords squeeze more than five tenants into less than three storeys.

Under the new rules, a property home to five or more people from more than one household, regardless of the number of storeys, will be classified as an HMO.

Landlords will also have an obligation to adhere to rules regarding minimum room sizes.

Single rooms will be required to be a minimum of 6.51sqm and double-rooms a minimum of 10.22 sqm. An extra requirement has also been added for children under 10 years of age, with these rooms required to be at least 4.64 sqm.

Burden for landlords

The new licensing is part of the government’s ambition to encourage more responsible lettings and reduce the possibility of potentially unsafe living conditions for tenants.

However, it will unavoidably place further pressure on Britain’s already stressed landlords.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, 16% of landlords rent to people in HMOs.

It is predicted that once the changes come into effect later this year, a further 177,000 HMOs will be subject to licensing.

Not only will the new rules require these landlords to apply for a license, they’ll also likely lead to some costly upgrades putting their profit margins under pressure.

This could be a result of a reduction in rooms available to let, increased costs to meet regulatory hurdles in terms of room size and subsequent safety measures, or general checks that a property is fit for purpose under the new criteria.

However, forgoing an updated HMO license would result in even greater financial damage, with severe penalties set to be imposed on landlords who fail to adhere.

No grace period

These criteria changes come amid a wave of new legislations, including the updated energy performance certificate (EPC) requirements in April and the various tax and regulatory changes introduced last year.

It seems landlords are being challenged to remain more industry-aware than ever before.

The value of external advice and support through these changes cannot be underestimated, as landlords will have no grace period after the regulation comes into effect on 1st October.

For brokers, this is a chance for them to brush up on the essentials of the new HMO licensing.

It’s the perfect opportunity to build a strong reputation of expertise in regulatory compliance, ultimately creating more business down the line as more landlords look to them for advice.

Source: Mortgage Solutions

Marijana No Comments

If you rent a home, your landlord may need a licence!

Tenants, landlords, and neighbours are being urged to alert the council to licensable properties. From 1 October 2018 all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) rented to five or more unrelated people must have a council HMO licence.

As things stand, a licence is only required if the property is three or more storeys high, but the law is changing this.

Landlords seeking an HMO licence will need to demonstrate to an Environmental Health Officer that the property meets national safety regulations.

The law change is designed to make sure that rented shared houses and flats are of a good standard and are safe to live in.
The council will be conducting inspections of properties over the coming months, and as of 1 October any landlord renting out an HMO without a licence will be committing an offence and could be subject to a large fine.

Those knowingly avoiding applying for a licence could be banned from renting out properties altogether.

Cllr Kim Caddy, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Don’t leave it to the last minute – any landlord who rents out an HMO without a licence after 1 October will be committing an offence. We’re also asking tenants, neighbours or anyone else who thinks a property could be licensable to get in touch.”

Source: Putneysw15

Marijana No Comments

Bury Landlord Fined For Unlicensed Property In Poor Condition

A rogue Bury landlord has been ordered to pay nearly £3,000 after being found guilty of several breaches relating to an unlicensed HMO in the area.

Abdul Raza Saddiqui, aged 50, of Parkhill Road, Bury, was fined a sizeable £1,200. He was also ordered to pay £2,452 costs as well as a £30 victim of crime surcharge after being found guilty of 12 housing offences.

The rental property, located on Seymour Road in Crumpsall, M8, failed various minimum safety standards. These included fire safety and gas safety, seriously compromising the safety of the tenants in the property and potentially endangering their lives should there have been a fire.

Council officers also discovered other breaches of management regulations in the property. These included a lack of working fire alarm, damaged fire doors, cluttered escape routes and broken heating facilities. There were also damaged kitchen units, as well as filthy and verminous common areas that rendered the property unfit for human habitiation due to the lack of hygiene.

Saddiqui pleaded guilty to eleven offences of breach of HMO regulations, and one offence of a breach of a condition of his HMO licence at a hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court,

Deputy leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Bernard Priest, took a hard line on rogue landlords in Bury: ‘There’s no place for rogue landlords in Manchester. Landlords have a responsibility to provide their tenants good quality, safe housing and we take the issue of tenant safety extremely seriously. We will continue to pursue enforcement action to defend the rights of tenants and will not hesitate to take legal action against anyone whose property fails to meet the required standards.’

He continued: ‘Our message to landlords is simple – bring your property up to standard, make sure your tenants are safe and get a licence where the law requires one.’

Source: Residential Landlord

Marijana No Comments

What brokers need to know about looming HMO changes

The new HMO rules for landlords that will come into force in October will extend the licensing requirements and may also affect room sizes. Brokers working within the buy-to-let market have spent the past few years getting their heads around a raft of recent regulatory and tax changes introduced to the market.

And it’s not over yet; new changes that will affect HMO landlords – as well as some landlords that might not consider themselves to own HMOs – are expected to come into force this October.

What do brokers need to know?

Last year, the government launched a consultation looking at HMOs and residential property licensing. The consultation aimed to give councils best practice guidance on standardising living conditions in HMO properties across the country.

The response to the consultation was published last December and this new legislation on licensing of HMOs is expected to pass through Parliament in the coming months, becoming enforceable in October.

Currently, properties with three or more storeys that are occupied by five or more people from two or more households require an HMO licence. However, the new rules coming into force in October will extend the scope of licensing for HMOs. An HMO licence will now be required for all properties with five or more people from two or more households, regardless of the number of storeys in the property, meaning a substantially higher number of properties will require a licence from October.

In addition to extending the licensing requirements, the government is also proposing the introduction of a minimum room size for bedrooms in licensed HMOs. The new guidance will recommend floor space be no less than 6.51 sq m and 10.22 sq m for single use and two adults sharing respectively. These new rules are expected to impact approximately 170,000 properties in addition to the 60,000 that already have an HMO licence.

What should brokers be doing?

Ultimately, brokers with existing or prospective clients with HMOs must ensure they understand fully the incoming changes so that they can support their clients in the best possible way. Brokers will play a vital role in raising awareness among those landlords whose properties will soon be classified as an HMO.

In addition, the changes represent an opportunity for brokers to further advise and support their clients. For example, for those clients affected by room size requirements or looking to convert their properties into HMOs or student lets, brokers can advise on how to access the funding to undertake these changes.

How can bridging finance help landlords?

One such funding route brokers can advise on is bridging finance. This is ideal for landlords needing a short injection of cash to complete conversions quickly. Indeed, some bridging finance providers will allow borrowers to acquire finance from day one before applying for planning permission, and even those that don’t will have shorter turnaround times and greater flexibility than other lenders.

Therefore, for clients needing to make changes quickly, bridging finance could be an invaluable route of accessing funding so that they can get the changes made within the necessary timeframe. This could be particularly beneficial for landlords who have already had to make changes to properties in their portfolios to comply with EPC regulations introduced this April.

The changes also represent an opportunity for brokers to further advise and support their clients

Changes to EPC regulations mean that landlords with properties with an ‘F’ or ‘G’ energy efficiency rating are required to make changes to their properties to improve their rating, or they face significant fines. These regulations affect both commercial and residential landlords and, while residential landlords won’t typically face high costs when making improvements, commercial landlords could face real problems if they aren’t able to improve their efficiency within the short timeframe – often as little as three months.

Things to remember

As mentioned, brokers have a vital role to play in advising their clients on these new regulations. First, this will mean raising awareness to ensure those landlords whose properties are going to come under the umbrella of an HMO are not only aware of the changes but also understand the steps they will need to take in order to get a licence. This will include finding the funding necessary to increase room size if needed.

Brokers will also play a role in advising those clients who want to either convert properties into HMOs or purchase them.

One final thing to remember is that landlords will be required to renew their licence through their local council every five years. Brokers must ensure that landlords are aware of this and also that they have a licence for each individual property in their portfolio.

Source: Mortgage Strategy

Marijana No Comments

FSE Manchester: Experts see HMOs as growth area for buy-to-let

Buy-to-let experts at the buy-to-let panel at FSE Manchester recommended intermediaries to do more HMO deals.

Adrian Moloney, sales director at OneSavings Bank, said “We’re seeing more commercial properties because it’s outside of the tax rules and landlords look at more HMO student accommodations because of greater returns.”

He added that with new rules coming into force in October that’ll potentially create 170,000 HMOs in the country, it’s an area advisers need to engage with.

He said: “Are you engaging with your landlords? Do you know it’s coming? Part of the journey the PRA has to do is assess this.”

Moloney warned though that if a landlord develops and lets out a HMO, they are limited because a family probably wouldn’t move into it.

He added: “I think it’s an ongoing discussion that will go on the next few months.”

David Whittaker, managing director at Mortgages For Business and Keystone Buy to Let Mortgages, said that if the new rules say a property with seven rooms has six due to how the new measurements work, he will have to follow that and underwrite for six rooms.

That’s not the only new rules since from April landlords can only let out properties with an energy rating of E or above.

Whittaker found in the county of Lincolnshire 26.4% of properties in 2014 that were rented out to landlords lacked basic EPC requirements.

He added: “So anyone that sends me a portfolio for Lincolnshire, I’ll look at each property more closely and I think every lender will too.”

With many rule changes such as these and mortgage tax relief reductions, Whittaker argued that brokers should be paid more in proc fees.

He said: “They will stay up. From 1 September we did it with Keystone because we recognise the world has become more complicated.

“I welcome everything that puts something back on our side of the table for all the extra work you have to do before you even decide which lender to use.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

Marijana No Comments

New guidance to limit ‘over concentration’ and number of HMOs in Wrexham

New planning guidance that could help limit the ‘over concentration’ of HMOs in any one area have been backed by councillors.

Over recent years Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) have become a hugely contentious issue – with an increase in the number of application submitted to Wrexham Council proposing residential and former office / retail space are converted into HMOs.

The issue has been particularly prominent in the six town centre wards – Brynyffynnon, Erddig, Grosvenor, Maesydre, Offa and Smithfield. This has prompted the six town centre councillors to come together with the aim of strengthening planning guidance.

Current ‘Local Planning Guidance Note’ for dealing with HMOs was adopted in February 1993 and revised in June 2004.

However a report presented to Executive Board members last Tuesday, notes that the guidance “currently lacks specific criteria for determining whether there is an over concentration of HMOs in a given area and for the provision of outdoor amenity space”.

In a bid to resolve issues with clusters and over concentration of HMOs, Executive Board members last week unanimously backed plans to adopt new planning guidance.

The new guidance will limit HMOs to 10% within a 50 metre radius of the boundaries of the application site. Where concentration is more than 10%, “planning permission will not normally be granted unless there are relevant material planning considerations to justify doing so”.

It also provides criteria that will be used to discourage the development of clusters of HMOs within individual streets. This would be achieved by “a gap of at least two dwellings or other buildings not in use as a HMO between a proposed HMO and any existing HMO”.

This will enable the planning committee to consider community needs in assessing planning permissions.

At last week’s meeting Lead Member for Planning and Corporate Services, Cllr David Kelly, acknowledged that the previous plan is considered “no longer fit for purpose” due to lack of specific criteria on over concentration of HMOs and provision of outdoor space.

He added: “I know certain members have had longstanding issues with HMOs and the concentration.

“I believe the work done in consultation with town centre members goes a long way to address a lot of the issues.”

The planning guidance relates to applications across the county borough, however it is noted in last week’s meeting report that a series of meetings had been held with town centre councillors as they represent the areas where the “vast majority of existing HMOs are situated and where there is greatest demand for new HMOs”.

Councillor Marc Jones, who represents the Grosvenor ward, has previously described the situation with HMOs as “frustrating” and a “catch 22”.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Jones said: “We want to ensure a mix of housing – owner occupier, private rented, council housing and HMOs.

“The situation in some neighbourhoods and streets is that HMOs are dominating and that can cause problems in terms of transient populations, overcrowding, parking issues, poor amenity space and, in a minority of situations, anti-social behaviour.

“As councillors representing those areas most affected by HMOs, we have pushed officers to strengthen guidelines. We haven’t achieved what we hoped for with this guidance but it is a step in the right direction. We will review and monitor the effectiveness of the new guidance to see whether it does have the intended effect.”

During last week’s meeting Cllr Jones also spoke on behalf of a cross-party support group of the six town centre councillors, who recently met Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths to stress the importance of Welsh Government support for new guidance.

They also highlighted the need for the Planning Inspectorate, nominally under Welsh Government control, to allow local councils to make decisions affecting local communities.

Cllr Jones added: “What we’ve seen in too many cases is that the local planning committee makes a decision, the landlord appeals to the Planning Inspectorate appeals and that is upheld. That’s not local democracy at work and it undermines the whole point of having a planning committee.

“We need to make sure the message will get through to Cardiff that our communities are a very fragile balance and the wrong decisions can have a huge impact on streets and neighbourhoods.

“HMOs have increased because many people don’t have any other option and that’s an indictment of how affordable homes aren’t being built.

“Councils such as Wrexham haven’t built a home for rent for a generation, although that will change later this year as the council starts to build again.

“These will start to replace the 10,000 council houses sold off since 1980 in Wrexham alone.”

Source: Wrexham

Marijana No Comments

Legislation change could catch out HMO landlords

New government rules mean thousands of buy-to-let investors will be forced to become licensed HMO landlords from 1 October.

The Residential Landlords Association claims that this will result in a further 177,000 landlords being subject to mandatory licensing. It will also affect all existing HMO landlords, who will have to ensure their properties meet new minimum standards.

Brokers are being urged to familiarise themselves with the new requirements, and contact clients who could be affected. Those that do not apply for the appropriate paperwork from their local council could be subject to unlimited fines and other legal action.

Many may also have to pay for property renovations to qualify for the licence.

Currently, a licence is only required for properties with three or more storeys that are occupied by five (or more) people from at least two households. From 1 October this will be extended to all properties that are occupied by five or more people from two or more households – regardless of the size of the property.

Licences are issued by the local council and are valid for five years. Landlords will have to demonstrate they are ‘fit and proper’, and that the property meets all relevant safety standards. Evidence of certain safety certificates will have to be updated on an annual basis.

At the same time, the government will introduce new minimum room sizes for licensed HMOs. At the moment some local authorities prescribe minimum room sizes, while others set out advisory standards.

Mortgages for Business chief executive David Whittaker says: “Many landlords will be unaware of these changes. They have been hit with a triple whammy of changes in recent years, so it is up to brokers to help explain how this latest regulatory change will affect them.”

He also pointed out that these minimum room standards may cause some problems for existing HMO landlords.

Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy says: “As an industry it is important that we have the right resources in place, with advisers equipped with the knowledge and experience necessary to help their customers.”

Coreco director Andrew Montlake says: “Whilst many of us understand why these changes have been instigated the quick timing between them means that landlords have had no respite in which to fully deal with them. We now need a period of calm to let this all bed in.”

Source: Mortgage Strategy

Marijana No Comments

Planning application for student flats at former Debenhams building withdrawn

A planning application to build student flats at the Castle Hill Arcade in Bangor (the former Debenhams building) has been withdrawn by developers.

Bangor City Council had objected to the development on the grounds that it would be an over-development and that additional student accommodation in the area is unnecessary.

Previous plans to build 65 student flats at the site were rejected by Gwynedd Council after concerns about the amount of student housing in Bangor.

The new plans would have retained the ground floor of the building as retail units with the 49-bed student accommodation to the upper floors and an extension at the rear of the building.

The developer, John Sutton from Manchester, had said the project would help free up housing for local families and boost the city centre economy.

The planning statement said: “It is considered that by providing purpose built student accommodation, the housing stock which has been converted into Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) and occupied by students can be returned back to their original purpose and be utilised as singular residential dwellings on the open market.

“This will contribute towards meeting the overall general housing need in Bangor, upgrade the quality of accommodation for students and agglomerate student accommodation reducing the sporadic pattern of units which occurs at present. This can ensure that the facilities students require can be provided in close proximity to their living quarters as they rarely rely on the private car.”

EXISTING STUDENT ACCOMMODATION

The planning statement also assessed the amount of existing student accommodation in Bangor, estimating that Bangor University has approximately 3,650 bed spaces available in Bangor at the official halls situated at Ffriddoedd Village, St Mary’s Village and Neuadd Garth.

The private sector currently supplies approximately 800 student bed spaces at site like Ty Glyn, the former British Hotel and former Plaza Cinema.

656 houses in Bangor (9.9% of housing stock) are registered with the Housing Department as HMO (housing definition).

809 houses in Bangor (12.3% of housing stock) do not pay Council Tax (not all can be confirmed as students – but students are exempt from Council Tax).

453 houses in Bangor (6.8% of housing stock) are both in multiple occupation and do not pay Council Tax.

The total housing stock of Bangor is 6,597. Therefore a high percentage of the housing stock is taken up by HMO/housing not paying Council Tax.

Source: The Bangor Aye