A landmark judgement between Bristol City Council and DIGS Ltd in Bristol could require councils across the country to return hundreds of thousands of pounds paid by student property owners who unnecessarily sought HMO licenses at £1,100 per property. After considering the case, the Judge said:
"Parliament had created a scheme which is complex and in part ambiguous.
"The lobby and landing associated with the private staircase from the ground floor to the upper maisonette at 12 John Street do not count as 'storeys'."
The Judge's verdict means that in this case the property at 12 John Street, Bristol, did not require an HMO. Councils up and down the country could therefore receive requests for a refund on HMO compliant maisonettes; Newcastle could have as many as 700 such properties. HMOs do however assist in protecting occupants and bringing the property to a higher standard than it otherwise would have been, with regulations for gas safety checks, electrical safety and fire safety. Many good landlords do adhere to these safety checks without having an HMO accreditation, however we advise students who are looking to rent a property to always consider and seek proof of each of these aspects. More information can be found on the government website here.