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Over Occupied Single Room or Property?

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 Ever advertised a single room and had someone ask if they can have it for their family of 3? Ever let a room to one person and then found it occupied by 2 or more? What do you do? What if you have an HMO Licence which will be breached? Sadly, what was rare is no longer. 

How Bad Is It? 

It used to be rare / almost unheard of, but the past 18 months there have been almost weekly enquiries from members about how to handle these situations.

Alwin's 'Flats In Southsea' agency has had several cases of someone enquiring about a single room for 2 or 3 people and once the rules are explained they start getting requests from 1 of the people for a room with no mention of the others (ie the potential tenant, having learnt the rules, phrases his/her request to meet the rules, though we have seen several times that the intent is still to share the room between several people once obtained).

We also have the 'my girlfriend is staying over' which turns into 'your girlfriend appears to have moved in with you'  and the 'I know I must have been pregnant when I took the room but I did not think to mention it and yes, I know the baby is disturbing other tenants and I need to find somewhere better to live'. 

Daryn had a gent who worked nights and who, for various reasons had his 14-year-old son move in - the son used the bed at night and the father used it during the day when the son was at school. Obviously, you advise against it, but conversely when someone is dealing with a dire personal situation you do not want to make things worse by making them homeless.

One problem is cultural - we get many requests from international students and workers for a room, and then they mention that it will be shared with partner and young child/children. In many other countries, the restrictions on occupancy and expectations of room sizes that we face do not exist - so there is an education requirement here.

The other problem, in the current environment, is affordability.

The Issue?

One of the issues is that there is no distinction between a landlord breaking the rules and a tenant breaking the rules - we have had cases where a landlord has phoned PCC asking for help, as he let a room to 1 person and it is now occupied by 2 and neither occupant is taking any notice of the landlords request that they stop sharing.  On several occasions, the PCC response has been to remind the landlord that he is in breach of his licence and to threaten enforcement action if the issue is not resolved.

Whilst we appreciate that PCC have very limited ability to influence the tenants, we don't feel that threatening the landord is helpful. 

What Can You Do?

Firstly, if you currently or recently have had problems in this area - do let us know. We have meetings with PCC scheduled and the more evidence we can bring, the better understood the issue will be. Email us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Our aim is to get a process in place where PCC enforce against landlords who over-occupy properties but help landlords educate tenants where it is a tenant instigated problem.

We will also be talking to the University as better explanation of local housing customs here in the UK might avoid some of these issues altogether.

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