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Tribunal supports council's decision on overcrowding

Date Published: 28 November 2017

On 13 November, a property tribunal upheld a decision by Colchester Borough Council to prevent a landlord from re-letting two rooms that were too small for occupation by tenants.

The Council's decision to serve an Overcrowding Notice on the property at 14 Shepherd Drive, Colchester, was made on 15 January following an inspection. It was appealed by the landlord, Dr Emad Alsuhaily, who considered the rooms to be suitable for letting.

During the inspection of the mid-terrace house, council officers discovered that it was being used as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and was home to five tenants, with a planned increase to six. Two of the bedrooms were below the Council's minimum guideline size of 6.52m2. One was found to be very cramped at 5m2, with a bed against a radiator.

The Council's Private Sector Housing Team served an Overcrowding Notice for HMOs under Section 139 of the Housing Act (2004), prohibiting the two small rooms to be re-let. The rest of the property was not considered to be overcrowded. Dr Alsuhaily lodged an appeal against the Notice with the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, stating that the current tenant was happy with the situation.

Following consideration of the evidence, the First-Tier Tribunal for Residential Property upheld the Council's decision and the appeal was dismissed. The two rooms can now not be re-let to a new tenant once the current tenancy ends.

Cllr Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, said: "It is the duty of landlords and agents to act responsibly and not to take advantage of those looking for accommodation. Cramped living and sleeping conditions are not acceptable and we will enforce wherever we find poor housing conditions. I am pleased that this decision has been upheld by the national Tribunal, supporting our guidelines for minimum room sizes."

Colchester Borough Council provides detailed guidance for landlords on its website and welcomes enquiries about housing standards from potential and existing landlords.