Some HMOs left out of council tax rules

While the government is reforming its treatment of HMOs for council tax purposes, some property types are being left out as it stands.

There’s an inconsistency on whether each tenant in an HMO is liable for council tax individually, or if the tax is shared throughout the property.

The government is looking to reform the situation so council tax is charged collectively for all the properties, but Phil Turtle, the compliance director at Landlord Licensing & Defence, said it’s possible some HMO types are excluded.

He said: “On the surface, this is good news for HMO tenants and landlords. Or at least for shared-facility HMOs defined under Section 254(2) of the Housing Act.

“It’s not so good for section 257 converted building HMOs. However, these look like proper flats and the treatment was to be expected.

“What no one seems to have taken account of is the many tens of thousands of Section 254(4) HMOs, where some of the bedsits have kitchenettes and en-suites – as demanded by the market – but one or more of the bedsits in the building has private essential facilities outside their bedsit door.

“For example, the bedsit may contain a kitchenette, but the tenant has to exit the bedsit and trot down the corridor – and in old Victorian properties down three or four steps – to the rear half-landing, to his or her private bathroom.

“Or they may have an en-suite in their room but their private kitchen – which probably used to be the communal kitchen before the larger rooms were upgraded to have kitchenettes – is across, or along, the corridor to what has now been allocated to that tenant as their private kitchen – one that is not shared with anyone else.

“It is essential that it is made clear in the legislation that ALL Section 254 HMOs – including s254(4) – are treated as single houses for council tax, otherwise the apparent win will be somewhat hollow for hundreds of thousands of tenants still forced to pay individual council tax bills.”