At Eastern Landlords Association, we understand that being a landlord can be a challenging and rewarding experience. However, navigating the legal requirements and dealing with tenant relations can be difficult, especially if you aren’t familiar with all that is involved. That is why we offer our members clear and comprehensive HMO property advice, among many other landlord-related services.
We pride ourselves on providing our members with a range of advice on different aspects of being a landlord and helping them to make informed decisions. Our goal is to help landlords achieve success by providing actionable and relevant information that they can use to overcome any issues that arise.
As a member of Eastern Landlords Association, you will have access to clear and comprehensive HMO property advice that will help you achieve success in carrying out all legal tasks associated with HMO properties.
HMO stands for houses in multiple occupation and is, quite simply, a rented house shared by multiple people, which can consist of single persons, families, or cohabiting couples. In order to understand if you live in an HMO, you will need to know about the different types of HMO housing:
A flat or house shared by three or more people from at least two households, with shared communal areas.
A home lived in by the landlord, that also has more than two tenants, and in which some areas are shared.
Since the implementation of the Housing Act 2004, some student accommodation is now considered HMO. Property that is privately owned and shared by students, who are each treated as a separate household and have exclusive use of the accommodation is an HMO.
A building or part of, made solely of converted self-contained units which do not meet the conversion requirements of Building Regulations 1991, and in which more than a third of the units are occupied by short tenancies. This is also known as a Section 257 HMO.
To be considered an HMO, a property must:
Be shared by more than two people.
Be the main residence of its tenants.
Have rent paid by the tenants.
As the landlord of a house in multiple occupation, you have several legal responsibilities that are additional to standard rental properties. Failure to recognise these obligations can result in fines of up to £5,000, so it is important to understand them.
The legal requirements for an HMO landlord include:
Displaying a notice within the property that details the name, address and contact number of yourself or the property manager.
Ensure that the property remains well maintained and professional health and safety inspections are carried out in line with safety rating systems. You must also keep good records of all inspections and any remedial work carried out.
Make sure that the property is not overcrowded.
Adhere to fire safety standards by fitting smoke alarms and heat detectors in kitchens. Fire exits must also be kept clear, and a fire risk assessment carried out in accordance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. You must also keep copies of the assessment. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges in the case of harm or death to tenants as a result of fire.
Maintain a clean water supply and proper drainage, including protecting pipes from frost.
Issue electrical equipment inspections every 5 years and maintain proper records.
Supply an electrical/gas record within a week if requested by the local council.
Maintain safety and cleanliness in all communal areas.
Keep the exterior and interior of the property in good order.
Provide the minimum number and location of shared bathrooms and kitchens.
Facilitate regular refuse disposal.
Have an up-to-date legionella risk assessment.
Make sure that you have correct landlord insurance in place. Be aware that HMO properties require specific policies and if tenants wish to sublet, most insurers will not cover this.
In addition to the landlord’s obligations, tenants also have rules to follow:
Must allow the landlord reasonable access and information.
Must act in a manner so as not to damage items that the landlord has provided.
Follow fire safety and refuse guidelines that have been set by the landlord.
As an HMO Landlord, you should also consider whether your property requires a licence. Certain multiple occupancy HMO properties require a licence to ensure that they are being managed correctly. These include:
Properties that have 5 or more occupants from 2 or more households. This is known as mandatory licensing.
Your local council may also have a requirement for the HMO to have a licence. This is known as additional licensing.
If you are not sure whether your HMO property needs a licence, we recommend that you check with your local authority. Some councils require all private landlords to apply for a licence, therefore it is worth checking to avoid and costly fines or criminal offences.
It is a criminal offence to disobey licensing laws and without a required license you could be at risk of paying up to 12 months’ rent and fines of up to £20,000. In addition, without a property licence, a Section 21 notice will not be valid, and you may be unable to evict tenants should you wish to.
An HMO licence application form can be obtained from your local council. The application is then made by the property manager or landlord. There is usually a fee to be paid, the amount of which is set by the local authority and is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the application. Once a license is issued, it will be valid for up to 5 years.
You will also need to inform several relevant persons of your application and provide their details to the council. This is all detailed on the application form.
Some of the things that the local authority will look for when making their decision include:
Whether the property accommodates for the number of people living there and the shared facilities are also suitable for all.
If the landlord or managing agent are ‘fit and proper’. This can include a background check into criminal convictions and any previous unlawful discriminations as a landlord.
Since 1 October 2018, councils will also check that bedrooms meet the Government’s mandatory bedroom sizes.
If the council does not grant your HMO licence, it may be possible to reapply with a different license holder such as the property manager. The council will usually grant you a month to try and appeal the decision and will always provide details of how they have come to the decision.
Local authorities also have the power to revoke HMO licenses if they believe that the conditions are being violated. If this happens, you will have 2 weeks to respond and 1 month to appeal a Residential Property Tribunal.
Breaking the terms of an HMO property licence risks fines of up to £5000. Furthermore, if the conditions of your licence are broken and the tenant receives Housing Benefits, the council can apply for a Rent Repayment order and reclaim rent paid for the duration of time that the HMO was unlicensed.
As a landlord, you can revoke a license if you wish to change license holders or cease to run the property as an HMO.
Membership in Eastern Landlords Association provides a range of benefits for landlords, including access to a comprehensive range of resources like expert advice, training programs, and networking opportunities. We offer:
If you are tired of going it alone in the property rental market, we invite you to become a member of Eastern Landlords Association today and start enjoying the benefits of membership. Our dedicated team is knowledgeable and experienced, and we are committed to ensuring that our members receive the best possible service.
If you require HMO property advice, or any other landlord related advice, our experienced staff can be contacted for advice Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm via phone or email.
If you’d like more information on membership, contact us today.