I have a five bedroom house in Battersea which I used to let to five sharers. This was renovated in 1999. Since 2006 I have had to have an 'HMO' licence.
Part of the requirement for getting such a license is that I had to send an electrical safety certificate to the council. (Other councils have even stricter requirements which they are able to make up for themselves as they see fit.)
Now, the problems start when you ask an electrician for a safety certificate. Every few years, the electrical wiring standards are updated. An electrician can only test an installation to the current standards. There were two updates to the standards between 1999 and 2006, so as you may guess, a lot of items were classed as 'requiring improvement'.
If I wanted a certificate, I had no option but to pay the electrician to do the 'necessary' works. As things stand, I will have to apply for another license next year. No doubt this will involve a further electrical safety certificate, plus any other requirements that the council have come up with in the mean time.
I am not willing to play this game any more, and have reduced the number of sharers to four.
Now, these requirements may seem trifling, but in Lambeth they are completely mad:
Back in 2007 I had a property renovated there with the idea of it being an HMO. The Environmental Health Officer would not put her requirements in writing. She gave different verbal instructions to my builder, to what she gave me.
I could see that whatever fire alarms and fire proofing I installed, the council would still be free to demand other requirements after the house was all finished and decorated. I told my builder to forget about the HMO requirements and just sold the house on the open market to someone with a large family.