Proving non hmo

Due to high rent of a property, I find that I am getting enquiries from individuals saying they are related to each other ie cousins. The property does not have HMO license. Say if they are all not related to each other and rent the place saying they are all related to each other, is it upto the landlord to prove their blood relations if questioned by the local council? Presumably there are plenty of properties let without the knowledge of landlords, agents and councils like this, I am thinking of asking proof of how they are related to each other? or is this too intrusive?

How many individuals will live in your property? The site says it is ok if they are grandparents, siblings aunts, uncles however it does not extend as far as cousins. I assume they will all be on one tenancy agreement. You would be close to the HMO line and at risk. Unfortunately from an outsider looking in it seems you are trying to find a loophole. The risk is not worth it either rent to a family where you are certain or just accept the faff and extra cost and get the licence.

It does extend as far as cousins. However I would want some evidence and possibly a sworn affidavit in front of a solicitor.

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thanks Lucinda and David. Yes it does extend to first degree cousins!. Affidavit is an interesting add on safety buffer. I can understand the rents outstrip affordability for most of them these days, as much as I would want to help, I have also had bad experiences with tenants being all nice t o begin with and then turn nasty. I am flexible to an extent but never the one to break the law. My night sleep is very precious!

Hi Shantala,
Lucinda5 rightly explained that a ‘family’ EXCLUDES cousins; you’ve said you believe it incudes ‘first degree cousins’. website clarifies it DEOESN’T.
Private renting: Houses in multiple occupation - GOV.UK

Hi David,
us landlords really appreciate your wealth of knowledge when you advise everyone on here.
I’ve just read the website re: which non-direct family members can be included as “family” - and corrected Shantala, based on it. I’ve seen that you also say cousins CAN be included.
Could you provide the link/source for this for us, please? (as there seems to be an anomaly in thinking)? Thanks in advance, Rgds, Sue

actually I have confirmed with Oxford Council and it is there on their website as well that first degree cousins also can be considered as 1 household. But practically speaking to me these days when we have mainly nuclear families, I do think landlords need to be sceptical of the relations when someone quotes a distant relationship and cannot prove with enough written evidence. I gave a miss to such an enquiry this week

@Sue6. Why do you think the Gov website excludes cousins? As far as I can see, it gives examples of family relationships, but not an exhaustive list.

I suggest you take a look at the source document - Housing Act 2004 s258 (4)(b), where you will see that cousins, (which would likely include second cousins) are indeed classed as family and therefore forming part of a single household.

Hi David & Shantala,
Thanks for the Housing Act. link, David. There does still seem to be the anomaly between the and Housing Act extracts though - in that appears to only go so far as 2nd degree relatives - whilst the latter includes cousins (a 3rd degree relative - though excludes Great Grandparents, also a 3rd degree relative).
Shantala - I can’t find any reference anywhere to a cousin being a FIRST degree relative.
Glad you raised the question, though, as it’s an interesting one which I doubt m/any Landlords have come across very often.

See reply below, Shantala, Rgds, Sue

I dont really see any contradiction with the Gov wdbsite in this case, which only lists few examples. However, in general, the gov website is the last place to look for definitive legal advice as it tends to publish ministers thoughts and perhaps intentions, rather than what their lawyers actually draft.

Thanks, Shantala. Looks like each L/A words it with their own interpretation of the law.
As you say, it could be a right pain trying to ‘prove’ the degree of any relationship for those (they may call) ‘cousins’ - but, if you didn’t, it’s open to L/A potentially fining you re: the difference between a ‘family’ and an (undeclared) HMO.

Yes, the local authority can challenge the landlord to prove the tenants are cousins but if they are genuinely related then it will not be an HMO and the council has no power.

If the tenants provide some evidence that they are cousins but it later transpires that they are not, then the landlord would likely have a statutory “reasonable excuse” to avoid prosecution.

thanks David
I have declined this particular request

couple with 1 child, the man of this couple is related to 2 girls, these two girls in turn are related to the man by way of his father being related to the mothers of these girls. So the girls become cousins for him.
Total 5 including child, HMO or non HMO?

If everyone is related or in a cohabiting relationship with at least 1 other person in the group then its not an HMO.

OK that’s useful, thanks David

I have now given exact details, any further help please
RA,AJ,AK,CJ adults, KJ is the child. HMO or non HMO? they are a close nit family and lived together previously for years.

Kind of taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut here just put them both on ast. There were just two ? I have often done this