Throuple trouble? Modern relationships making HMO compliance tricky, warns top lawyer

Landlords and agents must make sure they don’t come a cropper deciding what constitutes a single household ©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - Throuple trouble? Modern relationships making HMO compliance tricky, warns top lawyer | LandlordZONE.

Throuple trouble? Modern relationships making HMO compliance tricky, warns top lawyer

Landlords and agents must make sure they don’t come a cropper deciding what constitutes a single household when vetting HMO tenants in an age of ‘polyamorous’ relationships, warns a top property lawyer.

While the legal definition of a household can be explained quickly, real life relationships are not so easily classified, says Robin Stewart, a solicitor specialising in property law at .

He points to a recent Property Ombudsman case study where a polyamorous ‘throuple’ were refused accommodation by agents who told them that the local authority would treat them as forming more than one household, making the property an HMO, which would not be allowed.

“This was an interesting case study, and agents are quite likely to start to encounter this sort of issue slightly more often,” says Stewart. “It does not attempt to offer any legal analysis, and we may be waiting some time for any authoritative case law on how to apply the Housing Act’s concept of ‘household’ to polyamorous groupings.”

Long term commitment

He explains that government policy guidance over social security entitlement considers that two people who are living together as a married couple would be expected to have the intention of sharing their lives together in the long term.

This guidance takes the view that those living together in a non-monogamous relationship would not be living together as a married couple because exclusivity is a key element of marriage.

However, Stewart (pictured) adds that if it’s possible to be a member of more than one couple, the members of the ‘throuple’, and any relatives of those persons, might be regarded as members of the same family, and hence one household.

He adds: “Where prospective tenants state that they are one household, agents should ensure that they understand what the relationships are, and then record this in writing.

“If there are ‘red flags’ suggesting that the tenants’ relationships might not be as claimed, it is very risky to ignore this.”

Read more: Complete guide to managing an HMO.

©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - Throuple trouble? Modern relationships making HMO compliance tricky, warns top lawyer | LandlordZONE.

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BREAKING: Shelter blasts landlords and agents over ‘illegal behaviour’

Shelter has launched a broadside against landlords and letting agents, using research among 3,500 private renters to ©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - BREAKING: Shelter blasts landlords and agents over ‘illegal behaviour’ | LandlordZONE.

BREAKING: Shelter blasts landlords and agents over ‘illegal behaviour’

Shelter has launched a broadside against landlords and letting agents, using research among 3,500 private renters to accuse both groups of illegal behaviour.

Of those polled, the lobbying organisation says 45% report illegal behaviour by their landlord or letting agent. Of these, 25% reported their landlord or letting agent entering their property without permission, 22% reported legally required safety equipment such as smoke alarms missing or not working and 18% had not protected their rental deposit with an approved scheme.

Most alarmingly, 9% of those polled said they had been threatened physically or verbally by their landlord or letting agent.

“Enough is enough. Nobody is above the law and renters are tired of being powerless to enforce their rights,” says Shelter chief executive Polly Neate (main image).

The research was conducted by pollster YouGov but Shelter has not replied to LandlordZONE questions as to whether they were tenant clients of the organisation or random member of the public.

If the former, the figures would not be surprising – tenants contacting Shelter for help are already unhappy with their renting experience.

The research also has a political purpose – Shelter is keen to ensure that the government does not waiver from its promise made in the most recent to bring in significant reform for the private rented sector (PRS).

This could include a national landlord register for England and abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

The research has not gone down well with organisations within the PRS.

Eddie Hooker (pictured), CEO of Hamilton Fraser, says ‘‘these sorts of wild accusations are not helpful at the moment but what I would agree with Shelter about is that too many tenants do not understand how the rental market works including, for example, how the rules governing protecting deposits vary depending on the kind of tenancy a renter has signed”,” he says.

paul shamplina portrait

Paul Shamplina of Landlord Actions, adds: “Suggesting that 45% of landlords have been involved in some kind of illegal activity is totally incorrect, as is the claim that a quarter of landlords have let themselves into a property without permission – none of these claims made by Shelter are an accurate reflection of the hard and diligent work many landlords and estate agents put into managing their properties”.

nathan emerson fraud

And Nathan Emerson, who heads up the UK’s letting agent trade body Property, says Shelter’s figures are “disheartening as our members do and have worked tirelessly, particularly throughout the pandemic, to maintain tenancies and ensure that properties are safe and meet a high standard even whilst under restricted working conditions”.

©1999 - Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® - BREAKING: Shelter blasts landlords and agents over ‘illegal behaviour’ | LandlordZONE.

Source : Landlord Zone More   

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