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Club investigated over unlicensed digs
Published 12/05/14

A PRIVATE members’ club in Henley is being investigated for a breach of licensing rules involving two staff houses.

Phyllis Court Club owns the six-bedroom properties in Singers Close and Haywards Close, which are used by its employees but neither is licensed as a house in multiple occupation.

The investigation is being carried out by South Oxfordshire District Council as the licensing authority.

Renting out an unlicensed house in multiple occupation can result in a fine of up to £20,000.

A council spokesman confirmed the properties were not licensed and that the club had submitted applications for licences.

The five-year licence costs £500 plus £25 per additional bedroom in properties with five or more bedrooms.

The spokesman said: “We are still investigating the circumstances around the use of these two properties and will consider the full circumstances of the cases before making a decision on the most appropriate course of action to take.”

He said the council was unaware how long the houses had been unlicensed and the investigation would attempt to establish this.

Compulsory licensing of houses in multiple occupation was introduced as part of the Housing Act 2004.

The council’s website says: “This is intended to help improve standards, particularly in larger, high-risk HMOs, and to ensure that these properties are managed by ‘fit and proper persons’.

“It is an offence to operate a licensable HMO without having obtained a licence.”

Graham Owen, club director and secretary, confirmed the club had applied for the licences after the council raised the issue. He said: “The district council haven’t granted licences yet because I don’t think they have come and done the final inspection.

“The last checking of the properties by the council was done in 1998 so it has come to our attention that we have gone beyond the time span and I think a number of regulations have changed in that time.

“I think we’re up to date with all the paperwork — it’s all ongoing. We have been working on this for a number of months actually because we have our own property services department.

“We’ll do whatever’s necessary. I don’t think we have done anything that they haven’t asked us to do. I think everything on the checklist has been dealt with.

“By and large it has been done and it’s up to the district council to inspect the properties.”

In December 2012 the club came under fire from a neighbour in Singers Close who said the house was neglected and this was devaluing his home.

More recently, the club has been criticised by its neighbours for plans for a new health centre.

It wants to build the two-storey complex with a gym and swimming pool on its visitors’ car park and tennis courts.

The club says the development is necessary to secure its future and retain its existing members.

But residents of the 57 homes in Phyllis Court Drive oppose the development, saying it would erode the quiet character of the cul-de-sac due to the increase in traffic and noise from people using the centre and give the area a more urban appearance.

The club’s grandstand pavilion, which is Grade II listed and overlooks the finish line of the Henley Royal Regatta, is currently being refurbished and a two-storey extension added.

The project includes a new public entrance, two lift towers, a new kitchen and disabled toilets.

Published 12/05/14

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