Rentify Advice: Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

For a thorough explanation of HMOs and what they entail, please see Rentify’s ‘Landlords & HMOs‘ guide.

An HMO is (generally speaking) a rental property in which different households share facilities but also have their own separate room (or rooms). They tend to be more profitable in terms of rental yield than non-HMOs and while this makes them a good bet for many buy to let investors, it unfortunately also attracts rogue landlords who only care about making as much money as possible, cramming too many people in to too small a property. This rogue element is a small minority but to counteract it there are special measures in place that all HMO landlords must know. Hefty fines and even prison sentences could lie in store for those who fail to carry out their duties. Here are 5 of the most important legal and safety responsibilities:

1.) Planning Permission: If you are converting a property into an HMO, you may require special planning permission from the council, so always check first.

2.) Fire Safety: You must have a fire risk-assessment carried out to make sure you have taken all steps to minimise the risk of fire.

3.) Electrical Safety: Electrical equipment (both fixtures and portable appliances) must be inspected every 5 years and you must have an up-to-date certificate to prove this has been carried out.

4.) Licensing: Certain types of HMO always need to be licensed (mandatory licensing). Also, local councils have the power to enforce licensing in other types of HMO (additional or selective licensing). Check with your local authority.

5.) Overcrowding: A licence will specify the maximum number of occupants, but if you do not require a licence you still have a legal requirement to prevent overcrowding. Your local council’s Environmental Health Officer should be able to tell you what would constitute overcrowding and inform you about the acceptable standards for the number and location of facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens.

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