Platinum celebrates the long-awaited Government’s response to the Council Tax Valuation of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) Consultation.

The consultation, which closed in March ‘23, was ground-breaking, and without the relentless campaigning of the HMOs & Council Tax Reform Group (Alan Murdie, Wendy Whittaker-Large and Daryn Brewer) and their campaign action, more Landlords and tenants would be unjustly affected by the discretionary practice of the VOA re-banding individual HMO bedrooms as single council tax bands. With the drive of Ben Beadle and the NRLA, a collective voice requesting a common-sense approach be applied, was clearly heard and a huge thank you goes to everyone who submitted their response to the consultation, contacted their MP, or simply supported the group.

The Government has confirmed this proposed change in the law, which they have pledged will be implemented this year; it is intended to protect and future-proof tenants in HMOs from being charged individual Council Tax when they do not benefit from washing or cooking facilities within their rooms.

The Government stated: “The amendment to legislation will ensure that HMOs will be valued as a single property, creating consistency in the sector, and provide certainty for councils and households moving forward.”

In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, this is a welcome step in the right direction for tenants and landlords and would level the playing field across HMO rentals. Imagine owning an all-inclusive rent HMO, with one on the same street being one Band “D”, and without notice the VOA determine yours to be 6 x Band “A”, an administrative and financial nightmare for both tenants and landlords!

Steve Moore, a landlord in our network affected by this unjust re-banding, commented “I’m delighted the government has indicated they will legislate to clear up this unsatisfactory situation. One of my properties was re-banded a year ago – and backdated a further two years to my purchase date in 2020 – putting both current and previous tenants on the hook for unpaid council tax. A swathe of similar HMOs in neighbouring streets remained aggregated, and this puts each of my tenants at a financial disadvantage of nearly £700 per annum. The council also made me liable – which I no longer am – effectively holding me to ransom for unpaid tenant debts and some of those tenants had moved out a year or more before the disaggregation and re-banding decision. What we want to see now is a swift move to enact the legislation and a pragmatic and simple way to re-aggregate HMOs affected by these sorts of decisions in recent years. Well done to the NRLA and the campaign group for driving this so hard and making our case.”

Wendy Whittaker-Large and Daryn Brewer commented, ‘Landlords and tenants will be hugely relieved to see this change happening. No longer will there be any question about council tax and who is responsible for paying. It will be the landlord’s responsibility to pay one bill for the whole property. We are delighted to have won this ongoing fight for the whole HMO sector’.

While we wait for further details regarding the implementation and proposed appeal process to return a disaggregated HMO back to a single banding, Platinum owner Mike Hedgecox had this to say:

“This is a real win for both tenants and landlords, removing both unfairness and uncertainty. Common sense has prevailed, and we look forward to this being implemented quickly. Over 100 Platinum landlords joined the campaign led by Wendy’s team over the last two years to influence this change and we are delighted that collaboration amongst landlord and tenant groups has been so successful. We are also extremely grateful to Caroline Dineage MP, who championed the legislative changes in Parliament.”