Landlord perplexed over HMO overcrowding row

A shared house landlord is threatened with prosecution because she rented her property to too many people, despite asking council repeatedly to rehouse tenants.

Cherwell Council has told Angela Green, landlord of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Marlborough Place, Banbury, Oxon, that they believe she has breached her HMO licence.

The issue is over a tenant who moved in his girlfriend and two children last August.

According to Miss Green, they wanted to rent an extra room in the house, but the council refused to pay the extra housing benefit until tenancy agreement was signed. Miss Green says she told the council that the house was overcrowded and the tenants needed rehousing, but provided still provided the agreement in October.

This specified rent should be paid direct to the landlord and the family gave notice to leave, stating October 28 as their final day. But Miss Green said the council told the family to stay in the house.

“They have not even been out to assess the living situation,” she said. “The council were fully aware that my property is only licensed for six people. I now have seven adults and two children living there.”

The letter stating an alleged breach of the HMO licence arrived last month, but tenants received a letter from the council the following day, telling them to stay in the house.

Miss Green has decided to evict the tenants, which is likely to cost her around £1,200.

Emergency HMO closure

Fire safety failures have led a council to invoke emergency powers to close a HMO and move the tenants out.

East Lindsey District Council inspected the HMO and found no fire doors above ground level, no emergency lighting, fire extinguishers that had not been serviced for two years and no integrated fire alarm system.

Under the emergency order the property must now remain empty until the problems are resolved.

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