My House; is a very very very large house... whadya think I should consider?

Hello Mr xxxxxxxxxxx.

xx xxxxxxxxxxx Road Canterbury

Congratulations on purchasing this magnificent property.

 

Highlighted are items you need to consider immediately!

 

All HMO properties must comply with legislation:

1.       A current Energy Performance Certificate, EPC  is compulsory prior to marketing.

2.       In addition prior to letting you must provide:

3.       gas

4.       electric and

5.       fire safety certificates. 

6.       A fire risk assessment and

7.       Housing Health and Safety Rating System survey will need to be undertaken and guidance followed. 

8.       Any entrance and bedroom doors should have easy egress thumb turn locks (not double locked requiring keys to escape).

Consideration to timing is key as students are only available during viewing seasons. 

1.       From now (June) to September there is a good likelihood of securing 9 tenants.  This said the student market in private accommodation is said to have shrunk in the last year following purpose built student blocks, increased fees and the economic downturn.

2.       After term starts tenant finding is progressively more difficult as the remaining tenure depletes before the next group of tenants take over normally from 1 July in any year and ending 28 June.

3.       Any proposed alterations must be effected speedily, ideally prior to viewings and certainly prior to agreed occupation dates.  Normal maintenance can be done anytime but ideally during vacations unless essential.

The following assumptions are based on my understanding that you wish to let to students.

If let to a family, company, etc then different advice would apply to the following insights of which you ought to be aware of.

Planning Application:

1.       I have pre-empted and provided for potentially relevant topics you may already know about.

2.       See also http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/commonprojects/changeofuse/

Legislation:

Sui Generis

3.       Your house is in a unique housing class – or will be, assuming acceptance of your planning application. 

4.       Any property let to 7 or more unrelated tenants is classed as Sui Generis,  i.e. it is in a class of its own. 

5.       The consequence of owning and letting such a property is that all the standards are significantly higher to comply, with a raft of rules.

HMO:

1.       In addition to Sui Generis categorisation your property would also become a Large HMO (5 or more unrelated tenants resident in three or more storeys all sharing some amenities. 

2.       As a large HMO you would be obliged to have the property Mandatory Licensed in accordance with section 54 of the Housing Act 2004.

a.       A Mandatory License should be applied for immediately but need not be granted prior to letting provided your application is acknowledged and you are permitted to rent pending the application being processed.

Article Four Directions:

3.       Presently in Canterbury Article Four Directions do not apply to HMOs - via the same HA 2004 which adopts pre-existing legislation provided by the Town and Country Planning Order 1987 change of use from Class C3 Residential Dwelling to Class C4 HMO use or in your case from C2 Residential Institutions.

a.       However, this is re-proposed in the recently published draft Canterbury Local Plan with a decision expected in just over 6 weeks, following consultation with affected parties including landlords. 

b.      Should this be accepted (vey likely) then it would prevent letting of any HMO without Planning permission. 

c.       Any decision could be implemented immediately following consultation, so if you do not yet have permission via either your application being accepted or pre-existing HMO status, then by letting to tenants prior to inception you would comply by default.  Thereafter, A4D permission must be obtained.   To be successful the concentrations of any HMOs in your area must not already exceed 10% within 100 yards.

d.      Any pre-existing HMO will not be required to obtain any planning consents unless this is lost by default i.e. by letting to non HMO tenants – this is one to watch!

e.      Any additional extensions to the property increasing rooms to let, will require permission in any event, following implementation of A4D.

Additional Licensing - section 55 of the Housing Act 2004:

4.       Further, should A4D go ahead this could indicate that evidence existed to justify a proposal for Additional Licensing - section 55 of the Housing Act 2004. 

a.       Were this to happen then every property would be subject to a fee which in some HMO areas is over £800 per property – a considerable sum if you are a  portfolio landlord!

b.      These fees are based on a sliding scale according to the number of rooms let. 

c.       Renewal fees are a further cost. 

d.      The biggest cost is not the fees per se, but the cost of compliance with ever increasing “improved standards”.

Building control :

1.       Sui generis standards are higher, particularly related to sound insulation. 

a.       A measurement of sound transmission between rooms must comply with maximum decibel threshold requirements. 

b.      A sound survey if required is likely to cost over £2000 before any actual work begins.

Let me know your thoughts?

 

Best wishes

 

Bob Leydon