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Charged with running an unlicensed HMO

Charged with running an unlicensed HMO

I have been charged with running an HMO without a license

If you have been charged with running an HMO without a license you may find yourself being prosecuted for running an HMO without a license. The offence arises under section 72 (1) Housing Act 2004 which makes it an offence for a person ‘having control of’ or ‘managing’ an HMO which is required to be licensed which and does not have it licensed. There are possible defences under section 72 (5) of the Act namely

  1. the person has requested an exemption notice from the council. Where a householder wishes to take steps which would mean the property is no longer an HMO the council can grant an exemption notice of up to 3 months from the requirement to be licensed. 
  2. the person charged has applied for a license to the council and their application is under consideration
  3. the person had a ‘reasonable excuse’ for not having licensed the property

A person convicted of running an HMO without a license faces an unlimited fine. As an alternative to prosecution councils can impose fines.

If you have been charged with having an HMO without a license it is important that you obtain independent legal advice to establish if any defences may be open to you. If matters are at an early stage your solicitor may also be able to negotiate a less draconian way forward with the council. The solicitor should also consider the more fundamental question whether your property is an HMO at all (for which there are specific statutory definitions) and which if any of the licensing regimes apply to your property. The law in this area is sufficiently complex that it is worth getting accurate advice to explore a way forward.

Brown and Co Solicitors acts for landlords across the UK in housing relates matters including prosecution for HMO offences. If you require legal advice or assistance please call us today on 020 8858 5996

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