s257 HMOs and Additional Licensing
HMO Licensing

1,952 Thanks
6,743 Posts
6 months ago

Dear RLA Colleagues

I am struggling to find definitive information on the responsibilities of leaseholders in relation to additional licensing of s257 HMOs.

I am the leaseholder of an upper floor flat in a Victorian house converted into two self contained flats. There is a small entrance lobby with the electricity meters. The ground floor flat is owned by someone else and is also let to a tenant. The lease dates from 1984, which places the conversion of the building as pre-1991 although it has undergone extensive refurbishment. The freeholder of the building is a company and they are very hands-off. They do not manage the building, nor do they levy service charges nor insurance costs. I have no knowledge of whether the freeholder insures the common parts of the building but I suspect not. The individual flats are insured by the leaseholders and any works required must also be arranged and paid for by the two leaseholders. The ground rent is specified in the lease but has never been collected from me. I assume the same for the other leaseholder. I now have a peppercorn rent anyway as a result of extending the lease.

Our local authority has recently extended an Additional Licensing scheme to include all s257 HMOs. This fact has not been widely publicised and the information on their website is basic and contradictory. Given the difficulty for most landlords of knowing whether their property is a s257 HMO and whether they are the responsible person, it seems disgraceful that have adopted the approach of using their colleagues from Building Control and Planning to root out likely buildings and charge the landlords a finders fee of £300 in addition to the licence fee. They may also issue a fine.

The information I've read on various other sites is also conflicted so I have a number of questions:

1) Does a freeholder who elects not to manage the property and does not charge ground rent or service charges have any liability in relation to a s257 HMO and if not, who would be the Manager?

2) Could one leaseholder get freeholder consent to be the building manager and apply for the licence and would that then cover both leaseholders?

3) Where there are different leaseholders letting their flats in a s257 block, do the individual flats each become licensable if the building is also licensed and alternatively if there is no manager for the building as a whole and it is not licensed?

4) Where a licensable s257 HMO remains unlicensed, would s21 be available to a landlord of an individual flat within the building? Would a tenant of one of those flats be able to claim a Rent Repayment Order against the landlord?

I realise that these questions may require some research or consultation with your Policy Director, but as the issue is becoming more commonplace and this is perhaps the most complex area of HMOs and licensing, I think that many members could potentially benefit from the answers.

Many thanks

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