Since I last wrote on this subject I have written to council officers to challenge them on whether or not council leader Julian Bell failed to register his investment property (which he owns in addition to retaining his tenancy of a housing association home around the corner) as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Officers confirm that the property has never been registered as an HMO. Apparently officers have accepted Bellâ€™s story that he never let out his property to more than 3 students as would be required for him to stay on the right side of the law.
But, shocking pictures used in estate agents details undermine Bellâ€™s case. Photos of only four out of five of the rooms shows nine beds. The impersonal rooms with microwaves do not have the look of a family home. As I laid out last week for Bell not to have broken the law we have to believe that he only had 3 or less tenants. These photos fail to make Bellâ€™s case for him.
This bedroom has a microwave, a single loft bed and two bunk beds. There are no personal items and the walls show no evidence of posters and other evidence that it has been used by a family rather than simply let out to short term tenants.
This second room has another two bunk beds and another microwave. Again no sign of personal possessions.
This third room has bunk beds again and we are up to seven beds already.
Finally, the fourth room has a bed and a sofabed. So we have only seen four out of five of the rooms but we already have nine beds.
Bell has never repudiated these photographs, instead he has tried to explain them away. Observers can decide for themselves whether these impersonal rooms filled with two or three beds each constitute a HMO or a family home with three or less lodgers. Council officers at Ealing Council believe council leader Julian Bell. Do you?