Last month we reported the case of members whose Portsmouth properties had been ROBBED (Reduced Occupancy By Basic Desktop Evaluation) when they applied for their HMO licences. See the original article here.
The PDPLA are supporting 6 appeals and these have each received their "Directions" from a Tribunal Judge. He has instructed this batch of cases to go to a full hearing and this will include a visit to each of the properties.
Five relate the to PCC officers decisions that the properties have insufficient communal space and therefore occupancy levels must be reduced. One relates to how they measure a small bedroom. We understand a number of other appeals are filed with the First Tier Tribunal (FTT)
Appellants should receive PCCs case argument any day now and in preparation we have spoken to solicitors, barristers and to Mike Stimpson of iHowz (Formally SLA and SPLA) and concluded that we have a strong case without the need for legal representation at this stage, though obviously we will use it if we need to go to a Judicial Review. Mike has himself won 5 out of the 5 FTT cases he has appealed and has assisted many landlords over the years. In cases like this the Tribunal will look at the property and the decision will be based on whether or not "the house is reasonably suitable for occupation" by the number of occupants requested on the application. Unfortunately, the Tribunal has a backlog of cases and the hearings are likely to be heard in May. We are hoping that PCC will hold back on further decisions that may require occupancy levels to be deduced until the results of the appeal.
After seeking legal advice we made a final request to Clare Hardwick at PCC for those impacted by the occupancy reduction to be granted 18 months licences as opposed to 12 to cover the duration of binding agreements in place for the 2019/20 student year. At the time of publication we have had no reply.
PCC have favourably reviewed a number of local appeals. Where you fail to reach an agreement an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal may be necessary. You can only do this when you have received your full licence with the contentious point in it. You then only have 28 Days. We can advise as required.
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.