Landlady fined £18k over unauthorised shared house

Posted On 14 Oct 2020 at 4:25 pm

A landlady has been landed with a court bill of more than £18,000 for continuing to rent out a student house after being denied planning permission.

Shirley White, of Southgate, London, applied for planning permission to turn 41 Bevendean Crescent, Brighton, into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in September 2017.

Permission was refused because there were already more than the council-set threshold of shared houses in the area. A subsequent appeal was dismissed and, in February this year, she was taken to court by Brighton and Hove City Council.

She initially denied the charges but changed her plea to guilty last month at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.

The bench fined her almost £14,000 after calculating how much extra rent she pulled in from renting it as a shared house for 15 months after the appeal.

She was also landed with costs of more than £2,000, bringing the total figure to £16,298.

Ward councillor Daniel Yates said: “Unlicensed and unapproved HMOs have significant negative impacts on communities such as Higher Bevendean.

“The numbers of licensed HMOs in their area meant that this HMO could not gain the correct planning permission and I’m delighted to see the landlord paying the price for flouting the rules for a quick buck. The sooner this property resumes offering a family home the better.”

The council had refused the application in September 2018 because more than one in four houses in a 50-metre radius were already HMOs – almost three times the 10 per cent threshold over which new HMOs are now allowed.

Planners also turned it down because the smallest room is tiny – 4.7sqm compared to the minimum size of 7.5sqm.

The appeal against the council’s refusal, which was lodged in June last year, was decided in September by planning inspector Andrew Owen.

When he visited in August, during the universities’ summer break, the house was empty but everyone agreed it had been rented out as a shared house, to three students and one professional.

The house was bought in June 2016 for £275,000 and online property company Zoopla now estimates it’s worth up to £340,000.

In November 2017 it was advertised to rent at £1,750 per month.

  1. SamC Reply

    “The sooner this property resumes offering a family home the better”. Blatant discrimination. People who are not part of a family have no less right to housing than people who are in a family. Smacks of “not our type”.

  2. WhanBamTrigger Reply

    Heads up. Little tip.

    HMO is a House of Multiply OCCUPANTS not Occupation.

    It’s not a house of many JOBS is it!!!
    Just for your future reports.

    • Nige Reply

      Wrong. They are known as a ‘House of Multiple Occupation’ not ‘Multiply Occupants’. A quick google search will easily confirm this for you.

      A suggest you also look up what the verb ‘to occupy’ means too.

    • Bob Reply

      Nope, it also relates to the act of occupying a property, NOT just jobs.

      “A house in multiple occupation (HMO)[1], or a house of multiple occupancy, is a British English term which refers to residential properties where ‘common areas’ exist and are shared by more than one household. ”

      p.s. It’s “Multiple” not “Multiply”.

  3. daisy duke Reply

    House in multiple occupation. As it is occupied by multiple people. The article is correct.

  4. JES Reply

    Actually the acronym HMO does not mean “House of Multiply Occupants” but as stated correctly in the report: House IN Multiple Occupation

  5. Sarah Reply

    What about the people who now have no place to live??

  6. Facepalm Reply

    If you’re going to correct someone it’s usually best to check your own response before posting. It is definitely occupation not occupants. And it’s not multiply.

  7. Michael fox Reply

    It is occupation numbnuts. Get your facts straight trigger😂

  8. Mike Reply

    Isn’t it permitted development to have an HMO with less than 7 individuals?
    I suppose the council make their own rules up with licensing though.

    • Nige Reply

      No it’s not permitted development. Any house shared by more than three unrelated people who all share the house’s facilities is considered a HMO and requires lisensing, and most likely planning permission too if it hasn’t been a HMO before.

  9. Shaun Reply

    So over 3 years 3*12*£1,750 = £63,000, assuming no increases, so still a massive profit. Don’t think the landlord was exactly “paying the price”!

    • Juliet Bonnet Reply

      Shaun, the rent for houses used as HMO’s usually include all bills for gas, electric, water, council tax, WiFi and TV. This all adds up to a substantial amount!

    • Haneef Reply

      She would be charging about £550 per room per, so she would have made much more than the penalty. HMO landlords include Electric, Gas, Water, Council Tax and some even Broadband to make it attractive for tenants.

  10. Artmil Reply

    People talk about building more houses due to shortage. I’ve got 2 bedrooms in my house I dont use but cant rent out due the licensing issues about HMO .There must be plenty of people with unused accommodation like me. What a waste of space and I could be saving some money for my old age and a few people could find a place to live in London. Housing shortages could be resolved if the rules changed.

  11. Ali Reply

    Just another way to discourage people housing when the council itself lacks.they would rather push people into homelessness and onto to the streets.

  12. Stephen Brown Reply

    Prime example of the housing crisis in the UK caused by persisting with nuclear family bias. The population has changed. Single people and old people are denied housing.

  13. Stephen Hetherington Reply

    I think Multiply Occupants was intentional and referring to number of tenants crowded into the HMO.

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