Mov­ing to stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion

The Wokingham Paper - - SOCIETY -

STU­DENTS of­ten live in shared houses or flats. Many of these prop­er­ties are houses in mul­ti­ple oc­cu­pa­tion (HMO).

If you live in an HMO, your land­lord has ex­tra le­gal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and may need a li­cence for the prop­erty.

There is a le­gal definition set­ting out what an HMO is. How­ever, in gen­eral terms, it is a build­ing where more than one house­hold lives and shares fa­cil­i­ties.

Stu­dents liv­ing in the fol­low­ing types of ac­com­mo­da­tion are likely to be liv­ing in HMOs:

A house or flat which is let to three or more peo­ple who form two or more house­holds and who share a kitchen, bath­room or toi­let.

A house con­verted into bed­sits, which is let to three or more peo­ple who form two or more house­holds.

For a prop­erty to be an HMO, it has to be used only or mainly as res­i­den­tial ac­com­mo­da­tion. It also has to be the oc­cu­piers’ only or main home, but this in­cludes any stu­dents un­der­tak­ing a full­time course of fur­ther or higher ed­u­ca­tion.

Other build­ings, such as halls of res­i­dence, are usu­ally ex­cepted from the definition of an HMO.

Prop­er­ties that are man­aged by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and other so­cial hous­ing land­lords do not count as HMOs.

If you live in an HMO your land­lord has to meet ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­i­ties which are in ad­di­tion to their re­pair re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. These are on:

The pro­vi­sion of prop­erly work­ing smoke and/or heat de­tec­tors with alarms and a safe means of es­cape in case of fire

Wa­ter sup­ply and drainage – can­not be un­rea­son­ably in­ter­rupted and must be kept clean and in good re­pair

Gas and elec­tric­ity ap­pli­ances and in­stal­la­tions must be safe, which in­cludes ar­rang­ing an an­nual gas safety check and hav­ing elec­tri­cal in­stal­la­tions checked at least ev­ery five years

Communal ar­eas such as stair­cases, halls, cor­ri­dors and en­trances, must be kept in good dec­o­ra­tive re­pair, clean and rea­son­ably free from ob­struc­tions

There must be enough bins for rub­bish and ad­e­quate means of dis­pos­ing of rub­bish

The liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion and any fur­ni­ture sup­plied must be clean and in good re­pair.

If the land­lord isn’t meet­ing these stan­dards you could try and speak to them about it.

If they don’t do any­thing, you could con­tact the lo­cal au­thor­ity. It can carry out an in­spec­tion and can take en­force­ment ac­tion if the prop­erty:

Poses a risk to your health and safety

Is poorly man­aged Is un­suit­able for the num­ber of peo­ple who live there

Should be li­censed but is not.

Be­fore de­cid­ing what to do you should check what type of te­nancy you have.

Many stu­dents in pri­vate rented ac­com­mo­da­tion have as­sured short­hold ten­an­cies and as long as your land­lord fol­lows the proper le­gal process, you can be evicted quite eas­ily.

You need to con­sider that en­forc­ing your rights may an­tag­o­nise your land­lord and could put you at risk of evic­tion.

You can get help, in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice from your lo­cal Cit­i­zens Ad­vice or visit www. cit­i­zen­sad­vice­wok­ing­ham. org.uk or con­tact Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Wok­ing­ham at

Sec­ond Floor, Water­ford House, Erf­s­tadt Court, Wok­ing­ham RG40 2YF. Tel: 0300 330 1189. email: pub­lic@ cit­i­zen­sad­vice­wok­ing­ham. org.uk

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