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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I am buying a flat in Bath for my grandson to live in with

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I am buying a flat in Bath for my grandson to live in with 2 student colleagues during his degree course. I was advised by an officer of Bathnes Council in February as follows:
If you stick with the scenario below i.e. your grandson living with 2 tenants, then the property would not be classed as an HMO. This is because one occupant is a member of the owner's household and living there effectively with 2 lodgers. There is an exemption under the Act for owner occupiers and their household having up to 2 lodgers.

With regard to using the living room as a bedroom, we would only be interested if:

An additional tenant moved in, to co-habit with one of the lodgers. This would make the property an HMO and we may be concerned about space standards.
Your grandso moved out and another tenant moved in. This would make the property an HMO and we may be concerned about space standards.
We received a housing complaint from one of the lodgers.

If you should have any more queries, then please contact this office.

Kind regards

Sonja Standring
Licensing Officer (HMOs)
Housing Standards Team
Housing Services
Bath and NE Somerset Council

Now I am told by the Bathnes Planning department that the flat IS and HMO.
1. Who is correct?
2. Does whether or not my grandson pays me rent and has a rental contract make any difference?
Thank you
Nina anstee

Alex Watts : Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : At the moment does he pay rent and does he have a contract please?

Thank you for your contact email. I will look forward to hearing from you with your substantive reply. Nina Anstee


At the moment no one has moved in. I have just exchanged contracts on the flat and am planning to complete within days. I am planning to offer the students contracts for the next academic year -Sept 2014 - July 2015. Obviously they want to sign up a.s.a.p before they leave Bath for the vacation.


I could either give my grandson a contact like the other two students (but at a lower rent) or give him rent-free accommodation without a rental agreement.

Alex Watts : Does your grandson live with you at present?

No. he lives with his parents nearby, but not with me

Alex Watts :

Ok - its likely it will be a HMO

Alex Watts :

This is because there are people from 3 different families living in one house.

Alex Watts :

If it had been the case that he had been living with you and then he moved into this house, this could be an exception.

Alex Watts :

But due to the fact that he is not living with you, I dont think falls under the exemption

Alex Watts :

If it had been him and one other tenant it would not be a HMO

Alex Watts :

But because in effect there are 3 households there it could be

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?


I have had further discussions with Bath City Council. They say that the legislation which governs HMO licensing and that which governs HMO planning is separate and different! the planning department has said that they cannot see any reason why I would not be granted planning consent for change from C3 toC4 but that I must apply. the only comfort I have got beyond this is that they say that I can go ahead and offer contracts to the 3 students now as they will not be moving in until mid September, by which time I should have planning consent. The senior officer when asked advised that in the unlikely event of consent being denied enforcement could take several months and I could also draw it out by appealing. she thought I could easily get through to the end of the academic year in this way.

Alex Watts : You could complain to the council chief executive officer.
Alex Watts : That department can investigate any complaint for you.
Alex Watts : Further if they do not find for you, you could complain to the ombudsman.
Alex Watts : They are independent of the council and can examine your complaint for free.
Alex Watts : Their website is
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

I am wondering whether making a complaint now might influence the officers' attitude to ay planning application (which I have resigned myself to having to make). what do you think? Are you suggesting that by making a complaint I might be able to over-turn the planning department's instruction that I have to submit an application, or might get some sort of a waiver of the need for planning consent because of their incomplete advice....or just that I might get an apology.?

Alex Watts : No it won't make any difference.
Alex Watts : The officer can't reject it or let it influence the fact you have made a complaint.
Alex Watts : If you have been told its not an HMO by the council and they accept this then you could argue you have a legitimate expectation to have it allowed.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything else for you?

that's all thank you.

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