Court clarifies meaning of ‘home in multiple occupation’
A flat can be considered a home in multiple occupation (HMO) even if it is only part of a larger building with floors used for other purposes.
That was the decision of the High Court in a case involving a two-storey flat situated above a restaurant.
The local authority said it needed to be licensed as an HMO because it was occupied by more than five people who didn’t form part of the same household.
At a hearing in the magistrates’ court, the authority stated that a property needed to be licensed as an HMO if:
- the HMO or any part of it comprised three storeys or more
- it was occupied by five or more persons
- it was occupied by persons living in two or more households.
The magistrates ruled against the authority on the basis that the flat was only two storeys because it was separate from the restaurant below it, which was not used for accommodation.
The High Court has overturned that decision. It held the correct interpretation of the law was that commercial premises above or below living accommodation, except where they were in the basement, would count towards the calculation of storeys.
This included commercial premises that were not used as part of the living accommodation, such as offices, shops, restaurants and pubs.
Please contact Sonia Dad if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law.