Landlord wins dispute with council over student accommodation
A landlord has a won a dispute with his local council over accommodation for students in two houses in multiple occupation (HMO).
The landlord had been granted HMO licences by the authority in relation to the two properties.
Each property had a bedroom in the attic, but the licences prohibited the use of those rooms for sleeping on the grounds that once the sloping ceilings had been taken into account, the useable living space fell below the authority's minimum requirement of 8sq m.
The landlord appealed to the First-tier Tribunal, which considered a practice note from the Institute of Environmental Health Officers recommending a minimum bedroom size of 6.5sq m.
The tribunal also considered the authority's own statement that a degree of flexibility would sometimes be possible if other compensating features were present in the house such as a large communal living space in each property.
The tribunal concluded that the attic rooms were adequate as study/bedrooms "where cohesive living is envisaged" and that there were sufficient compensating features in the houses to make them suitable for student or similar cohesive occupation for six people.
The council’s licence conditions were deleted and, in relation to the first property, the tribunal imposed an alternative condition that the room could only be used for sleeping by a full-time student who resided in the house for a maximum of 10 months per year.
No such condition was imposed in relation to the second property.
Those decisions have now been upheld by the Upper Tribunal.
Please contact Janice Young if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law.