A Harrogate hotelier has been found guilty of running a property as a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a HMO licence.
At Harrogate Magistrates’ Court on Friday 16 October, Yoko Banks, owner of the Aston House Hotel on Franklin Road in Harrogate, was found guilty of two charges, the first for operating an unlicensed house in multiple occupation and secondly returning a S16 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 Notice late.
The prosecution was brought by Harrogate Borough Council which believed Mrs Banks was running Aston House as a HMO as well as a hotel, which Mrs Banks insisted that it was operating as. Houses in Multiple Occupation have to meet certain mandatory conditions that are different from those required by a hotel.
A house in multiple occupation is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ (eg a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.
The Magistrates’ Court decided that, having heard evidence from the residents of Aston House Hotel and an Environmental Health Officer from the Council’s private sector housing team, it was clear that they were long term tenants rather than guests. They reached this decision based on the set-up at the hotel, monthly payments, shared facilities, lack of services and cleaning at the property.
Councillor Mike Chambers cabinet member for Housing and Safer Communities, said:
HMOs are the only housing option for many people, so it is vital that they are properly regulated.
Licensing these properties is intended to ensure that they are not overcrowded, the standard of management of the HMO is adequate, and that any necessary improvements are identified.
“The council will take action against people who have failed to apply for a licence but have been found to be operating a HMO of a type where a licence is required.”