This applies to generally Victorian buildings that were once hotels or boarding houses that through the passing years became bed and breakfast trading operations. It is very easy to slide into what is now classed as a “House of Multiple Occupation”.(HMO) If five or more people forming two or more families indicate that they want a longer term of occupation than just B&B. The property will be classed as a HMO. An application must be made to the Local Authority for an HMO licence which is valid for five years. The long winded title of the legislation is the ‘Licencing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018. If an HMO licence is not obtained where one is required enforcement procedures can be envoked by the Local Authority with a fine of up to £30,000. Some London Boroughs are especially hot on enforcement.
All modern pub leases contain a condition that prohibits sub leasing. People living in a HMO property are automatically classed as ’Assured Shorthold Tenants’. HMO status may not necessarily be automatically approved by your Pubco/Brewer landlord if you hold a long term lease. Always check!
On the assumption that you do get consent from your Pubco/Brewer it is almost certain that the necessary licensing will be classed as mandatory. This is perceived as the ‘high risk’ status of having shared residential facilities, such as a communal kitchen and utility room, located above a pub trading operation. Fire regulation and electrical safety are paramount as is site management. The manager of an HMO is responsible for all fire safety compliance both in the private rooms and common areas. The water supply must be kept in a good and clean condition and electrical checks must be regularly carried out and recorded. Common parts must be kept free from obstructions - that includes bikes. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires a full, not partial, fire risk assessment to be carried out for all common parts of the building. These stringent requirements are to the benefit of all and will ensure a continuing and legal income flow from your long term tenants. Just allowing B & B occupation to gently slide in to longer term occupancy for five or more people without:
(a) your superior landlord’s consent and;
(b) without an HMO licence is definitely not a wise move
Our latest Newsletter which gave a timely reminder of the background of ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ (HMO) had an omission of one additional point which needs highlighting.
The use of rooms above or within a pub as B&B is considered as part and parcel of the trading operations and is thus classed as A4 use. HMO is in a different Use Class category being C4, despite occupying the self same rooms . A Planning Application is needed for the change of use to enable the required consents to be applied for and granted by the Local Authority. This will need the provision of detailed floor plans and all the associated confirmations to accompany the application. If you are going down that route you will need a professional on board to prepare the plans and compile the formal application. It is also helpful if you or your representative discuss the project with the Local Planning Officer who deals with your neck of the woods. This will assist the passage of the application having sought the prior advice of the Department concerned.
Our thanks for the ‘nudge’ goes to one of our close corresponding professionals Dale Ingram of Planning4pubs who has dealt with a number of such applications in the recent past….Every little helps to get the detail correct!