A laid-back landlord who insisted her colourful HMO was ‘warehouse living’ to avoid getting a licence has been ordered to pay more than £31,000 to four former tenants.

The First Tier Property Tribunal approved their Rent Repayment Orders after it ruled that Jacqueline Hancher should have licensed the unit above a warehouse in Omega Works on the Crusader Industrial Estate in Haringey (pictured).

Justice for Tenants backed the tenants who lived in what the tribunal labelled an “unstructured and Bohemian environment”.

Hancher, a fashion designer, argued that the units were not only used for living accommodation but also for workplaces where the occupants could develop their professional artistic activities and use the communal facilities for artistic events, such as concerts.

One – a musician – was a squatter in Hancher’s adjacent unit who she made costumes for and helped to promote his events.

‘Warehouse living’

The landlord believed that the tenants lived and worked at the property, and this was consistent with ‘warehouse living’ which is exempt from the HMO licencing regime.

However, the tribunal heard that she had granted them tenancies which prohibited tenants from using their accommodation for anything other than a home.

Living conditions were basic in the unit; one staircase was not suitable for living accommodation and a range of works were required to improve the means of escape, which were not carried out.

Read: A complete guide to renting an HMO property.

The tribunal ruled: “At all material times, unit D was an HMO which required a licence under the mandatory licencing scheme. Had it not been so covered, it would have been required under Haringey’s additional licencing scheme.”

Hancher owns three other rental properties, one of which is an HMO. She also owns a property in Shoreditch where she lives and is planning to sell the warehouse in Omega Works for £2 million.

Read the Tribunal report in full.

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