Student landlords often make the choice of keeping a rental property outside the house in multiple occupation (HMO) to avoid the cost and hassle of licensing – but what happens if you are made an accidental HMO landlord?
To keep outside HMO rules, landlords opt to take in fewer tenants and close off a bedroom.
That effectively leaves the home as a buy-to-let.
The strategy won’t work in a neighbourhood controlled by article 4 planning or additional HMO licensing that requires all private rented homes to register, but will work elsewhere.
Then, when carrying out a regular property inspection, to your horror you find one of the tenants has moved in a girlfriend or has changed the extra bedroom from a store room in to another renting room for a mate.
You are now an accidental HMO landlord – so here’s what to do:
You can opt to register the property with local council as an HMO – going through the licensing, planning and upgraded fire safety processes.
Don’t forget to tell the tenants that the extra costs involved, the additional tenant and the extra wear-and-tear on the property will mean the rent has to go up from the date the new tenant moved in.
You do not have to agree to add the cuckoo in the nest to the tenancy agreement if you do not want to.
Write to the tenants clearly indicating you do not agree they can sublet to another tenant without your permission.
At the same time, issue a section 21 notice demanding that the tenants quit the property. Speak to a solicitor about this as you will need to show you have put any deposit on protection and that your tenancy agreement is legally watertight before you go to court.
If the new tenant moves out, you have the option of withdrawing the notice and continuing the tenancy or carrying on with the eviction.
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