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I am a tenant in a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) with 3 rooms which has the Additional Licensing and it is allowed to have max 5 occupants for a maximum of 3 households. Specifically London, UK.

Now the rooms are as follows:

-11 sqm room : I live there

-13 sqm room : a couple live there

-<10 sqm : a couple live there

Now I am sure that the last room (<10sqm) should be rented as a single room not to a couple (https://www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/tower-hamlets). Of course they can claim they are 'respecting the Additional licensing' since we are 5 occupants but to comply with the standards, the couple was supposed to rent my room not the single room. Is there anything I can do legally? Is this breach in the license?

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    Which part of UK is the HMO? In England & Wales, the minimum permitted floor area for a room with two people aged over 10 is 10.22 sq/m, so have you accurately measured the room?
    – Rick
    Aug 20 '21 at 17:24
  • @RockApe I accurately misured my room which is 11.2 sqm. I am 100% certain that the 'single room' is below 10 sqm by comparison (of course I cannot enter in that room for privacy now but I went in occasionally). Also the property is in London UK, Tower Hamlets specifically londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/tower-hamlets
    – asasa178
    Aug 20 '21 at 17:47
  • What are you trying to accomplish here? Aug 20 '21 at 19:49
  • @Studoku See here law.stackexchange.com/questions/70645/… Essentially at the moment I have been given an (invalid) notice. Now if they do serve a notice again Iwant to understand if this can be a breach in the license hence any notice is invalid anyway.
    – asasa178
    Aug 20 '21 at 21:03
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Is there anything I can do legally?

Not a lot really as you're not the tenant in that room. If the landlord/owner is not approachable, one option is to report your concerns using the Tower Hamlets complaints procedures, especially as their website says:

The Council has a proactive inspection programme of HMOs. If conditions in the properties inspected are not up to standard, the landlord or owner is required to improve them.

The legislation on the size for this type of HMO room can be found at para 1A(2)(b) of Schedule 4 of the Housing Act 2004:

1A. (1) Where the HMO is in England, a licence under Part 2 must include the following conditions.

(2) Conditions requiring the licence holder—

[...]

  • (b) to ensure that the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by two persons aged over 10 years is not less than 10.22 square metres...

Edited to add in response to a comment:

The above quote from the Tower Hamlets website refers to a requirement to "improve" the accommodation which might (or might not) be sufficient to address the apparent breach of licence. However, Section 70 provides the power to revoke licences in certain situations - such as:

(1) The local housing authority may revoke a licence—

[...]

  • (b) in any of the cases mentioned in subsection (2) (circumstances relating to licence holder or other person);

[...]

(2) The cases referred to in subsection (1)(b) are as follows—

  • (a) where the authority consider that the licence holder or any other person has committed a serious breach of a condition of the licence or repeated breaches of such a condition;

  • (b) where the authority no longer consider that the licence holder is a fit and proper person to be the licence holder; and

  • (c) where the authority no longer consider that the management of the house is being carried on by persons who are in each case fit and proper persons to be involved in its management.

I do not know if Tower Hamlets would, or would not, use this power in response to a complaint made by a non-connected person but it is an option worth exploring.

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  • Thanks. However how can you 'improve' a small room. The issue is they should not have rented to a couple. In theory the license he has should not allow him to rent that room for a couple (if I undestood the law correctly)
    – asasa178
    Aug 20 '21 at 19:21
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In addition to the points raised in Rock Ape's answer, breach of a licence condition is a criminal offence pursuant to section 72(3) of the Housing Act 2004:

A person commits an offence if (a) he is a licence holder or a person on whom restrictions or obligations under a licence are imposed in accordance with section 67(5), and (b) he fails to comply with any condition of the licence.

Section 249A provides that the local authority may seek a civil penalty instead of a criminal prosecution (but not both). In practice, local authorities tend to prefer civil penalties as they are allowed to keep the money. They tend to reserve criminal prosecutions for cases where they want to make a public example of the landlord.

Section 73(5) provides a defence if the landlord has a "reasonable excuse" for breaching the condition. Additionally, paragraph 1A(4) of Schedule 4 provides that the licence must contain a condition allowing for the landlord to rectify the breach if it occurred without his knowledge (e.g. he rented the room to one person who later moved in their partner without telling the landlord).

EDIT: to address your comment; "Now if they do serve a notice again I want to understand if this can be a breach in the license hence any notice is invalid anyway"

A breach of a licence condition does not render a section 21 notice invalid. That only happens if the property is unlicensed, pursuant to section 75(1) of the Act.

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