House in Multiple Occupation – The burden of Proof

If a landlord lets out a property in good faith and then the tenant sublets a room in the property, making it an HMO without informing the landlord, an offence would have been committed in this instance. 

The question we usually get at the firm of Adel Jibs & Co Solicitors is who has committed the offence? and who is liable? 

The decision of Mohamed & Lahrie v Waltham Forest sheds more light on this.  

In the above case, a local authority had prosecuted Mr Mohammed and Ms Lahrie, for operating an unlicensed HMO after their tenant had sublet part of the property. 

The landlord’s argument, in this case, was that they could not have known that their tenant was using the property as an HMO. This argument was rejected by the magistrate court and subsequently rejected by High Court following an appeal to review the decision. 

Implications – Strict Liability 

The findings of the above case, establish that operating an unlicensed HMO is a strict liability case.

What does this mean in reality? 

In law, the prosecution needs to prove two things that the defendant committed a criminal act and had criminal intention, that is, they were aware that they were committing a criminal act. This is known as actus reus and mens rea, respectively.

The exception to this would be strict liability offences. In this case, it is not necessary to prove that the defendant was aware they were committing an offence in order to convict.

The above re-enforces the fact that local authorities need not prove that the landlord is aware of a property being used as an HMO in order to prosecute for operating an unlicensed HMO.

What To Do:

As with property matters, common sense and logic is not enough and that is why it is crucial to engage legal assistance to advice you in your property affairs. Our Solicitors in Enfield are highly experienced in all matters of property law. For advice, assistance or representation, please contact our team on 02034173859 or comm