I read in a local paper that the Camden Council conducted a survey about the problems faced by thousands of tenants living in Camden’s 8,585 HMOs (houses in multiple occupation).
The report revealed pretty shocking facts about some HMO rentals there claiming that some were covered in black mould due to dampness, and others had defective toilets, faulty electric wirings, collapsed ceilings, even dangerous sleeping quarters!
I had a hard time believing the last bit about dangerous sleeping quarters, because, honestly, who in there right mind would rent a room where they don’t feel safe in? Safety should always be one of the top concerns that every person should look out for in a room or house, whether you’re buying or renting. I believe that is a basic rule that every person who values his or her life should always consider before signing a lease or making a downpayment.
Unsurprisingly, 85 per cent of tenants who responded in the survey said that the council should take more in action in improving the conditions of some HMOs in Camden. Out of the 12 landlords who responded, however, only 9 agreed with the tenants’ sentiments. What a shocker.
The Camden Council, for their part, are now thinking about introducing a new rule which would require all HMO landlords to apply for a license before converting any house into a HMO.
For those unfamiliar with HMO rules, under existing laws, not all HMOs are required to secure a license from their respective local councils. Only large HMO properties are mandated to undergo the licensing process. These “large HMO properties” are those which have at least three storeys, leased to a minimum of four tenants, and all of whom share toilets, bathroom, or kitchen facilities.
So if a landlord is running a HMO which doesn’t fit the property requirements provided by law, then he’s off the hook on licensing.
I believe that in proposing to require all HMOs in their area to secure a HMO property license, all that the Camden Council wants is to close this loophole. Honestly, I kind of agree with their proposal, as long as the additional requirements would be reasonable for the size of the HMO being converted. If unlicensed HMOs will be allowed to continue operations, incidents like what happened in Croydon would only multiply.
Remember that last year a landlord and agent from Croydon were fined £3,000 plus £2,500 in court costs, after being found guilty of running an unlicenced HMO. It put the spotlight on HMOs, because the unlicensed HMO property caught fire. It’s a good thing that no tenants were harmed during the incident, otherwise the penalty might be harsher.
At the end of the day, the decision to approve the proposal or not is in the hands of the Camden council. But whatever action they choose, I hope that they decide for the better, not only for the landlords, but also the tenants of Camden.Tags: HMO landlords, HMO properties, hmo property license, HMO rentals, property requirements