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wingrovebuyer, Senior Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 737
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (Honours); PG Diploma in Law; Member of ALA; 9 years' experience
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David, I am sorry but I have been ill for the last couple

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I am sorry but I have been ill for the last couple of weeks - I received a raft of emails from you asking me for my rating...
I have given excellent and a small bonus, but I have not finished asking my question. I will get back to my old (important) question about AP later.
Can you answer me a different one now - about someone "having an estate or interest in the premises"
A friend (woman) of ours died in India in 2009. I have been looking after her house (in her sole name at LR 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.
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 too 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 received a letter from the Council "NOTICE REQUIRING PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS" stating that they believed the familly 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 any of them or I am aware of. Is there some way they get the estate foistered 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 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?
wingrovebuyer : Hi Andrew - sorry you've been ill. This isn't really my area, but I think it is highly likely that the family will have an estate and interest in the property., either under the lady's will or under the intestacy rules. And estate or interest can be minimal, and the council as licensing authority is allowed to demand answers to the question of ownership. If the lady left a will, the legal owners will be her executors, the beneficial owners being whoever she left the house to. So,even if they've not bothered to administer her estate, there will still be owners if she left a will. David

She did not leave a will


If this is not your area, how do I get someone whose area it is to answer the question?

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