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Unreasonable Council Improvement Demands?

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We've received a letter from a "Technical Officer" in the Manchester City Council PSH A6 Corridor Team relating to an unlicensed HMO that we own (5 student tenants, 2 habitable storeys).

The letter informs us that he has visited and inspected the property which we knew nothing about until his letter arrived. This leads me to my first question: Is it correct that a council officer can do this without affording the landlord the courtesy of an advance warning of the visit, such that the landlord has the option to be there at the time of the visit? Presumably he either just turned up on the doorstep and was let in by the tenants or wrote to the tenants who did not tell us about it. Surely as the owners of the property we should be informed in advance of such a visit?

The letter then goes on to comment on various "areas of concern" followed by a list of "required works to bring the property up to standard". Although some of these items are reasonable, others seem extreme and I'd like to know if there is a specific list of requirements laid down in statutory legislation defining what is meant by "standard" that I can cross-check the list with? If not, is it simply the case that it is down to the council officer's personal opinion? One of the comments relates to some defective pointing in the external masonry - surely that is not the council's concern?

I've searched the web for specifics on these matters but all I can find are comments like:

"The Council may also apply the following conditions:

Requirements regarding the internal and external condition of the property its contents and their maintenance; and

Requirements regarding the provision of amenities including kitchens, toilets and personal washing facilities."

Thank you.

05/07/2008 00:00

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