I know that I am very late in applying for mandatory licenses for specific student-let HMOs, and have recently initiated action to start the process, including hiring an assistant experienced in student lets to help me get things in order.
She (my assistant) had tried to make an appointment with the local council (Welwyn-Hatfield) HMO officer to inspect one of the properties with a view to seeing what would be needed (if anything) to get that one up to standard – the house are only 3-4 years old on a new estate, and each of them is on 3 storeys and has 5 students.
He (the HMO officer) repeatedly cancelled the meetings for no reason (and he had no knowledge of the actual ownership, although it is hard to imagine how they could not simply check the council tax records). Shortly after she had started contacting them, I received a letter regarding licensing of another student-let property, calling upon me to submit the application.
I wrote back saying we had already initiated action and that the meeting with my assistant was unfortunately postponed and this was delaying the application.
The council has now escalated this and said that they have now cancelled all meetings with my assistant and that I now have to appear at the council offices for a "formal interview, under caution and conducted in accordance with the code of practice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984".
I know I should have applied for the licenses sooner, but I was the one to initiate the recent action, and feel that they are being combative rather than facilitative.
I would be grateful for advice on how to deal with the council, how to handle the interview, and whether submission of the application in the meantime should defuse the situation.
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