Plans are in to gain approval to use a former GP surgery in Eltham as a HMO with 17 individual rooms.
The building at Court Yard in Eltham has been in use as a HMO since 2015 according to planning documents raising questions over Greenwich Council’s inspection regime. It is also not on the council’s HMO register which is a legal requirement since licensing introduced almost two years ago.
Some rooms are as small as 9.1 square metres. The second floor has two bathrooms and one kitchen for 17 people.
According to documents Greenwich Council’s HMO officer supports this plan. It states:
“It is our understanding that he was happy with the facilities subject to minor
improvements and planning consent being obtained, hence this application. He
requested that fire strips and door closers be fitted on all doors which is now
completed, and he also requested that the fire alarm be upgraded to an
addressable system and this is in hand.”
According to Greenwich Council’s own rules, if an unlicensed HMO is discovered the owner should be liable for:
- prosecution, which carries an unlimited fine
- fines of up to £30,000
- management orders, where the Council takes over the management of the HMO
- rent repayment orders, where you’ll have to pay back up to 12 months of rent you collected.
In addition, if the Council discovers an unlicensed HMO, we could charge an additional 30 per cent in licence fee when you apply for the licence. This is to cover the costs of finding the unlicensed HMO.
This property is also not on the list of registered HMOs on the Greenwich Council website. It became a requirement to register after October 2017 – though only 2.6 per cent of landlords had done so by February 2018.
Private rented sector
Greenwich Council have some of the weakest private rental regulation among London Labour councils. They did not seek widespread regulation of all private rentals while the power was available.
Central Government then capped regulation to a limited percentage of homes or wards within an authority. Greenwich Council have still not adopted regulation and licensing under that reduced scope but did adopt HMO licensing – though years after many other councils.
Since then the number who have registered is far below estimates. Adopting regulation late and on a limited scale has reduced income to investigate abuses across both HMO and the wider private rental sector.
Both Conservative Bexley Council and Labour Lewisham do regulate all private rentals in the worst wards for poor conditions and anti-social behaviour. Other authorities across London such as Islington Council are currently tightening rules.