Out on the streets

In Unprecedented times we flagged up an enforcement appeal decision in which the inspector accepted that an uncertain situation currently exists with regard to Covid-19 but nevertheless reasoned that under s173A of the Act the council had the power to extend the time for compliance with the notice. In a further enforcement appeal relating to an unauthorised house in multiple occupation in north London (DCS Number 400-025-551), however, the inspector extended the compliance period, recognising that the effect of the notice would be to deprive the tenants of their homes at a time when they would be unlikely to find somewhere else to live.

The enforcement notice required that the use of the property as a house in multiple occupation cease within five months. The inspector noted, however, that the UK is currently subject to lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, finding it unreasonable to expect the HMO occupiers to look for new housing in the near future. Indeed, she recorded that until 30 September 2020, under the Coronavirus Act 2020, landlords are required to give all renters three months’ notice if they intend to seek possession. She was also concerned that the council might have difficulty enforcing the notice if the five-month period for compliance was not varied. She concluded that it was reasonable and proportionate to extend the compliance period from five to nine months.

Further information on extending the period for compliance with an enforcement notice can be found at section 4.5361 of DCP Online.