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Communal Space in HMO’s – Have you lost a room?

Empty-Room

We know many landlords have lost a room in Portsmouth after applying for a Mandatory HMO licence when the new rules came in last October. This is typically a 5-bed going to a 4 or similar, due to communal space not meeting PCC's very high requirement (compared to every other council in the country).

If this is you – what have you done with that room? For many, we know it is just wasted as a separate 7 or 8 square metre room in a property where the inhabitants do not live as a cohesive group has no value. The individuals often use the communal kitchen but take food to eat in their room and don't use the rest of the house except, obviously, the bath/toilet facilities as required.

One issue we are finding is that unbeknown to the landlord, one or more of the tenants decide it is a 'wasted room' and they let one of their friends live there….

How To Avoid This Problem 

 To avoid finding yourself in trouble, here is what you need to do:

  • We advise anybody with a 5 reduced to 4 to remove the bed from the fifth
  • Also mark the tenancy as being let to a maximum of 4 tenants to make sure the rules are clear (not an issue for larger properties as it will be stated on the licence)
  • One member states, "In the one case where I have done this I have also found tenants willing to pay more for a really good 4 so I got £1700 for a house for 4 that had previously achieved £1900 as a 5- which is some comfort at least"
  • This view is borne out by other members who have evicted 5 'low rent' tenants, upgraded the property with more ensuites etc and now have a higher gross rental income from 4 'young professional' tenants.  Not good for those on low rents, but that is a PCC created problem
  • One other possible hurdle a landlord may have to cross is why it was not picked up on an inspection by the landlord - these are supposed to be carried out "regularly" although what this means is sufficiently loose as to allow for wiggle room
  • But although it is just an empty room, either lock it or empty it and check it on each inspection

The fact remains this is another burden on landlords in properties which all too often should not have been reduced in the first place

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Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.

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