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Not a Mongoose

Letting Agent Doesn't Want All 6 Of Us To Be On Council Tax Bill / Electoral Register

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Greetings, new member here. I've been searching for the answer to this problem, which led me to this forum.

Me and five friends are in the process of agreeing to let a very nice house in south london for a very good price. On paying him our holding deposit today and giving our references etc, he asked which two of us would like to be on the tenancy agreement. We chose two, and then he asked if we minded not being registered on the electoral roll, and told us only two of us should register for council tax. I queried the electoral roll thing and he said two of us could register if we wanted to. When asked why he said it has something to do with the mortgage.

It seemed a little strange but on the spot the implications didn't really occur to us. I did ask him to send the tenancy agreement to all of us before the two go to sign it, as they are representing us and we should know what the terms are. He agreed to email it to us on tuesday, so we'll read it and see what it says.

Having discussed it and done some research, we've decided we all definitely need to be on that tenency agreement or the four remaining tenants will have no rights. So if we are, then that side of it is fine.

But the electoral register thing is very suspect. Why would he not want us to register to vote? We all need to be on the electoral roll or we're risking our credit rating, and also we might even want to vote in the next election! The big thing that's been flagged by searching through this forum is the 'something to do with the mortgage' thing is that the landlord does not have a BTL mortgage, and the agent is covering his ass. Would six of us being on the electoral roll flag to the mortgage lender or something, and expose his fraud, if this is the case?

Can anyone think of any reasons why the agent might have this clause? Any advice on what we should check? Obviously we're already very wary of the risks we might be getting ourselves into. Having already been mislead by this landlord on rent and admin fees, it is only the great quality of this place that's keeping us attracted.

I'll be away for the weekend so won't be able to read any replies until monday. Cheers people!

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It is illegal not to register to vote if you are living somewhere. Not saying councils ever enforce it but for a letting agent to instruct you not put your name on the register is outrageous.

Why should you give up your right to vote just cos some ignorant letting agent says so. Also if you are not on the electoral register you will struggle to get credit or a credit card or open a savings or bank account - its one of the first things they check.

Re council tax why does it matter how many are registered there? - if its 2 or more people and neither are exempt (e.g. students) you pay full council tax (unless you are on a v low income).

All sounds dodgy to me - unless the landlord is worried about it being identified as housing of multiple occupation. This would mean he would need to register with the council and be subject to a lot more costs and checks.

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Definitely (in my opinion anyway!) HMO considerations, which cut in as soon as there are more than 2 (unrelated) people.

If the house has more than 2 storeys then with 6 of you the LL would have to get a licence and there are LOTS of seriously tiresome regulations designed to ensure that no 80-year old with Alzheimers / brain-damaged druggie/ other very vulnerable person accidentally gets fried in a fire or can't wash /cook for themselves easily. Totally over the top for most groups of professional / student sharers.

If the house only has 2 storeys it depends on the Local Authority. It's still an HMO (which the mortgage company may well object violently to) and the Local Environmental Health / Planning / Housing depts will have differing views. If they are small minded bureaucratic power-crazed jobsworth little Hitlers ( stand up, Bournemouth) they set rules which ignore the Gov't "more than 5 people AND more than 2 storeys" and go for exactly the same rules but enforcing them via the HHSR rules ( a branch of Health and Safety.) Some of these are cuckoo - in one house we owned, the facilities could be made compliant by REDUCING the facilities ( taking the shower OUT of one of the bathrooms to make it a WC only.)

However, whatever my personal gripes against some EHOs & councils, the deal (what deal? You aren't being offered anything in return?) here stinks.

BTW you don't have to be on the tenancy agreement to be on the Electoral Register - consider all the 18 year old sons and daughters of tenants that there are. There's no way the LA can stop you, and they couldn't charge you with any breach of contract for doing something that is a legal requirement.

Edited by cartimandua51

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It is illegal not to register to vote if you are living somewhere. Not saying councils ever enforce it but for a letting agent to instruct you not put your name on the register is outrageous.

I don't think it is illegal not to register - but it IS illegal not to register someone else, so the 2 named tenants would be putting themselves in the frame for responsibility for filling out the electoral registration -and then face a dilemma.

Why should you give up your right to vote just cos some ignorant letting agent says so. Also if you are not on the electoral register you will struggle to get credit or a credit card or open a savings or bank account - its one of the first things they check.

Agree

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Definitely (in my opinion anyway!) HMO considerations, which cut in as soon as there are more than 2 (unrelated) people.

If the house has more than 2 storeys then with 6 of you the LL would have to get a licence and there are LOTS of seriously tiresome regulations designed to ensure that no 80-year old with Alzheimers / brain-damaged druggie/ other very vulnerable person accidentally gets fried in a fire or can't wash /cook for themselves easily. Totally over the top for most groups of professional / student sharers. ....

AFAICS, HMO applies if the individuals have separate tenancy agreements, whereas if there is only the 1 agreement, then it is a straightforward AST. I would be interested to see it explained otherwise.

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I dont know an awful lot about this type of thing, but if I were you I would ask the Lettings agent to see proof that the landlord has a BTL mortgage and that all multiple occupancy legislation is in place.

The fact that it is a 'very good price' implies to me that the landlord probably hasn't got a BTL mortgage or doen't have to pay extra costs to comply with the legislation.

And remember although you may save a few quid now, 4 of you will struggle to even open a bank account by not being on the electoral roll and it will definately affect you when try to get a mortgage in the future.

Oh and if the Lettings agent doesn't play ball, the grass him and the landlord up to the relevant authorities. Thevy've wasted your time, so make them sweat.

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All sounds dodgy to me - unless the landlord is worried about it being identified as housing of multiple occupation. This would mean he would need to register with the council and be subject to a lot more costs and checks.

My first thought was that the LL is afraid of the house being registered as a HMO with 5 or more people living in it and wants to avoid all the repsonsibilities attendant with that.

It is absolutely illegal for the LL or LA to attempt to prevent any of you registering. If the LL gets caught...well, s/he only deserves it. (This is why you all need to be on the agreement. If he gets found out he can say "well, but I only let it to 2 of them, the rest moved in without my knowledge", and have your 4 mates kicked out.)

I would ensure that all 6 of you are on the agreement before accepting it. If 2 of you have already signed, you are in a bit of trouble especially if the agreement doesn't allow for others to be living there. Also the two who have signed may be left having to pay for the entire rent if the other 4 decide to leave. If the deal has already been signed, you should probably go and see the CAB or similar to see what avenues you have. (I'm not going to say "first go and see the LA" as s/he would have no intention doing anything about it.) I doubt the LL or LA would want 6 witnesses telling a magistrate/the local council that s/he had tried to dissuade 4 of you from registering. Whatever you do, start the ball rolling as quickly as possible.

Rule No 1 of dealing with LLs and LAs: if it sounds dodgy, it is dodgy and it isn't for your benefit.

Edited by D'oh

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It's not HMO related your all friends asking to rent a house. HMO rules don't apply.

The thing is many of us on this website know this but does the agant?

The other thing is that it may just mean more work for the agent when dealing with 6 people on the agreement which he can't be arsed doing.

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It's not HMO related your all friends asking to rent a house. HMO rules don't apply.

The thing is many of us on this website know this but does the agant?

The other thing is that it may just mean more work for the agent when dealing with 6 people on the agreement which he can't be arsed doing.

Sorry, but you are seriously out of date on this. An HMO is ANY habitation shared by more than two people not related to each othe (so 6 members of the same family - gran, parents, 3 kids any age - OK; couple sharing room plus one friend in spare room - HMO).

Link

Under the Housing Act 2004, HMOs are defined for housing purposes as properties that are lived in by people who are not from the same family. The people living there will have to pay rent, occupy the property as their main or only residence and share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. Self-contained flats are excluded if the conversion meets the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and less than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.

Until now, occupants sharing a property under a joint tenancy have often been considered to be a single household. This was established by the 1995 Sheffield v Barnes court ruling. The Housing Act 2004 changes this decision.

A member of the same family means people who are married or living together, or related to one another. This includes half-relatives and stepchildren. Regulations specify other situations in which people may be considered as one household.

Random selection from google - happens to be Rushmoor Council.

Govt link:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/ukpga_20040034_en_1

Housing Act 2004 s.254 is the relevant bit.

Or if you prefer Camden's info :

establish whether the premises meets one of the standard tests for HMO:

* an entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet

* a house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities

* a converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households

I think you may still be thinking about the old Sheffield ruling.

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Sorry, but you are seriously out of date on this. An HMO is ANY habitation shared by more than two people not related to each othe (so 6 members of the same family - gran, parents, 3 kids any age - OK; couple sharing room plus one friend in spare room - HMO).

....

Govt link:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/ukpga_20040034_en_1

Housing Act 2004 s.254 is the relevant bit.

Or if you prefer Camden's info :

establish whether the premises meets one of the standard tests for HMO:

* an entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet

* a house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities

* a converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households

I think you may still be thinking about the old Sheffield ruling.

Looking at section 254 of Housing Act 2004 briefly, it looks like the test always whether the occupants form more than 1 household. So the couple with a friend could still be a single household, depending on their domestic arrangements.

In the OP's case, I think that NOT including all of the tenants on the agreement may tend to reduce the strength of a claim that all 6 are a single household, and make it more likely that the house is regarded as being HMO.

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Looking at section 254 of Housing Act 2004 briefly, it looks like the test always whether the occupants form more than 1 household. So the couple with a friend could still be a single household, depending on their domestic arrangements.

In the OP's case, I think that NOT including all of the tenants on the agreement may tend to reduce the strength of a claim that all 6 are a single household, and make it more likely that the house is regarded as being HMO.

Only if they were in a polygamous relationship!!

s. 258

HMOs: persons not forming a single household

(1) This section sets out when persons are to be regarded as not forming a single household for the purposes of section 254.

(2) Persons are to be regarded as not forming a single household unless—

(a) they are all members of the same family, or

B) their circumstances are circumstances of a description specified for the purposes of this section in regulations made by the appropriate national authority.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a) a person is a member of the same family as another person if—

(a) those persons are married to each other or live together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex);

(B) one of them is a relative of the other; or

© one of them is, or is a relative of, one member of a couple and the other is a relative of the other member of the couple.

(4) For those purposes—

(a) a “couple” means two persons who are married to each other or otherwise fall within subsection (3)(a);

(B) “relative” means parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin;

© a relationship of the half-blood shall be treated as a relationship of the whole blood; and

(d) the stepchild of a person shall be treated as his child.

(5) Regulations under subsection (2)(B) may, in particular, secure that a group of persons are to be regarded as forming a single household only where (as the regulations may require) each member of the group has a prescribed relationship, or at least one of a number of prescribed relationships, to any one or more of the others.

(6) In subsection (5) “prescribed relationship” means any relationship of a description specified in the regulations.

(bolds are mine; )

As far as I'm aware, the "prescribed relationships" referred to are a coy way of dealing with the problem of Muslims in polygamous marriages when they arrive in this country.

Whether a group of friends could, even if they wanted to, get away with claiming they were all in some huge hippy-commune style sexual relationship with each other has not been tested in court! I rather think any Housing Officer would treat it as an HMO, enforce the regulations and invite the Landlord to challenge it in court ( or tribunal, whichever.)

Edited by cartimandua51

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Thanks for the replies guys, we understand our position now. The multiple households thing definitely needed clarifying!

We haven't signed anything yet. We are getting the tenancy agreement on tuesday, and if we aren't all mentioned on it we will get him to change. If he won't change it, we'll tell him we know what he's doing, and if he still won't change it we'll report him. We're not bothered about the lack of HMO licence so if he plays ball we're prepared to go ahead.

The regulations for this kind of house seem a bit over the top! With the loft conversion it suddenly needs all this fire safety stuff - if the floor plan was bigger we'd have the same housing situation but it wouldn't need any extra licencing.

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Another vote here for the HMO reason. ...and as far as trying to stop you from voting, that is utterly wrong. Not that the letting agent would know if you register yourself to vote. Wonder why he's so worried, friend/relative of the landlord?

As for all not being on the tenancy agreement, I certainly wouldn't agree to be one of the two signees - if someone stops paying the rent, there is damage etc.., only the 2 on the agreement would be held accountable, they'd need to seriously trust the other 4!

..oh and being off the electoral register brings your credit rating right down.

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It's not HMO related your all friends asking to rent a house. HMO rules don't apply.

The thing is many of us on this website know this but does the agant?

The other thing is that it may just mean more work for the agent when dealing with 6 people on the agreement which he can't be arsed doing.

you are wrong - which is kind of worrying as you're a landlord aren't you?

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you are wrong - which is kind of worrying as you're a landlord aren't you?

He only says he's a landlord. Mind you, his total lack of knowledge about residential letting laws isn't particularly uncommon among many LLs these days (most of members of this board excluded).

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If you want to be on the electoral roll for the property, then phone the council and tell them. Don't tell the landlord.

If you all want to be on the bills, then phone the service provider and tell them. Don't tell the landlord.

Honestly, I have got no idea why renters adopt such meek atittudes towards their landlords.

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