There were concerns raised that the information on Lambeth’s website is confusing the landlords could be taken to imply the council has greater powers than they legally do. NLA members asked the council to consider the wording of their online tool, that gives advices to landlords if they need a licence.
Even if the license is not required, the tool says that the property “should comply…with our HMO standards”- a clear reference to Lambeth Council’s own guidelines as opposed to government legislation. It could be explained as the landlord being required to comply with the council’s standards – even though forcing a standard higher than the legal minimum is not enforceable.
“All properties require an inspection by an environmental health officer or surveyor to ensure that they meet the requirement of the above standards” – the council states on the tool. While local authorities have the right to inspect any property with reason, non-licensable HMOs do not legally require an inspection before they can be let. NLA members also highlighted to the council that the current wording could be taken to imply otherwise.
While the HMO section of the website states “Other standards are given as a guide to what we believe is reasonable for the health and safety of the people living there”, this is not explicit in the guide for landlords.