Are you complying with HMO regulations?

by Sarah Ashcroft

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are increasingly common in the UK, as people get around their inability to afford a property of their own by sharing with others.

It also makes great sense for landlords with large buildings in their portfolio to split them up in such a way that allows them to rent rooms to a number of tenants, enhancing their potential to make a healthy return.

While owning and renting out an HMO sounds like a simple plan and one that will ensure a steady income, there are still some complications that must be considered at all times. For instance, HMOs carry certain specific regulations and requirements, so law-abiding landlords will need to stick to these if they are to avoid incurring the wrath of local authorities.

What is an HMO?

A property is defined as being an HMO if it has at least three tenants living there forming a household. Similarly, any home in which the occupants share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen facilities is legally an HMO.

What you need to do as an HMO landlord

Tenants who are unhappy with the situation in an HMO can complain to their local council and the authorities are required to enforce the standards set by the government. They can also force landlords to act to correct any problems, so it's wise to stay one step ahead by keeping everything in order.

All landlords need to know exactly what they are expected to do as the owner of an HMO, above and beyond what is expected of those renting out a home to a single occupant.

1. Make a risk assessment

The first step is to make sure that safety is of the highest standard, so carrying out comprehensive fire safety precautions is a must. Smoke detectors have to be placed in every bedroom and throughout communal areas, while the kitchen must have a heat detector in place.

Lawpack's Landlord's Fire Risk Assessment can help you to do this easily and inexpensively.

Gas and electrics are also important, so HMO landlords are required to have a gas check conducted every year and an examination of electrics every five years.

2. Don't get many tenants

It might be tempting to cram as many people into a home as possible in order to maximise its rental value, but landlords are also duty bound to ensure that the building they are renting out is not overcrowded.

3. Provide adequate facilities

There should also be suitable cooking and washing facilities, as well as communal areas, for the number of people who are living in an abode, and enough rubbish bins for everyone inside should be provided.

4. Do you need a licence?

It's also important to work out whether an HMO needs to be licensed, and more information about this can be given by a local authority. Any landlord who is not sure about whether they have the correct permission to be renting to at least three tenants should get in touch with their council.

There are plenty of advantages of running an HMO - not least the potential to make a lot of money - but sticking to the legal requirements at all times is a priority.ADNFCR-1645-ID-801662941-ADNFCR

More information

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Published on: May 15, 2014

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