"Having an Estate or Interest in the Premises" (No Will, No Inheritance Process, intestacy rules?, Housing Act 2004). Letter from the Council "NOTICE REQUIRING PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS", House of Multiple Occupancy...
Please answer in Q&A mode (not Chat)
A friend (woman) of ours died in India in 2009. I have been looking after her house (in her sole name at Land Registry and no mortgage) since about then. It is a large house that I rent out by the room (House of Multiple Occupancy). The family (husband and kids) have not initiated any inheritance process in the UK or elsewhere and for reasons they seem unwilling to share with me do not want to. The owner left no Will. As I operate an HMO I asked the Council for application forms for an HMO licence. The Council have been around to inspect and have OKed everything from safety etc perspectives. However, the form must be filled out by the owner - but the owner is dead. The primary purpose of the forms (given we have passed safety etc inspections) seems to be to check if I am a "fit and proper person". It therefore seems very wrong for me to fill out the form as if either I or any of the relatives were the owners of the house - Lying does not seem the correct approach to confirm I am fit and proper. I have explained my predicament to the Council umpteen times in full clarity. The law states that I must ask for an application form. Then the Council must provide me with a suitable application form - and this is where we get stuck - the Council are unwilling to amend their application form to allow me to apply for an HMO licence in the circumstances and the family are unwilling to go through the inheritance process. I have made it clear to the Council that I am in control of the house and the HMO running within. I am the only person who has ever allowed them in... Today, however, one of the family members (widower) received a letter from the Council "NOTICE REQUIRING PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS" stating that they believed the family member to be "a person who has an estate or interest in the premises known as..." and demanding a copy of the owner's death certificate, birth certificate, tenancy agreement and any written agreement regarding the management arrangements of the above property. I have already given the Council a copy of her (Indian) death certificate. The family have none of the other documents. Are any of them (widower) "a person who has an estate or interest in the premises known as..." - they have not claimed any of the estate in any way that they or I am aware of. Is there some way they get the estate foisted onto them as relatives even if they don't want it and/or have never asked for it? I am concerned that if they admit to having any estate or interest in the property, that the Council will hold them liable for not having a licence etc up until now. It would seem, therefore, this should be denied until and after which point they choose to engage in any inheritance process. Is this correct? Of the 4 documents being demanded, I have already provided 1 (death certificate) and they have none of the others. How should they respond to this letter - a terse "We have no estate or interest in this property and no documents demanded beyond those you already have" I am aware that they potentially have an interest in the property - as widower the father has first pick at this cherry if he wants it. All advice to me to date is that unless he initiates this process, it won't happen. Can you advise me on how they (and I) should respond to this letter?
 Are any of the family people who have estate or interest in this premises?
Derived from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/section/235 (section 7)
Can the Council unilaterally assert the widower is a person having an estate and interest in the premises, or do they have to prove it?
 How should the family respond to this letter?
a) From the point of view of not being owners of the house or seeming to want to engage in any inheritance process (for reasons I cannot begin to explain).
b) From the point of view that they don't want to be held liable for running an HMO without licence while this mess is cleared up
c) From the point of view that they do not have any of these documents, except the death certificate which I have already provided the Council.
 Are they trying to force an inheritance process to take place - whether the family want it or not? Can this be done? How?
 Can the family be held liable for a lack of HMO Licence while this mess continues?
I have stated to the Council that I am the sole controller of the property. They have told the Council that the property belongs to their mother/wife and that I am in control of it and all questions should be directed at me. The Council's position now (not before) is that I am not the controller, that the family is and that they will only talk to the controllers.
The Council have not issued this notice to the Controllers, Managers, Proposed Licence Holders, Occupiers… but instead to the person having an Estate or Interest in the premises.
I suppose the Council have 2 motives 1) To force an inheritance process to happen (They want the birth and death certificates) 2) To force them to acknowledge control of the house