What is a HMO or a House in Multiple Occupation?

Although we often see the term “HMO” used in the media and on company websites, many people including landlords are actually unclear as to whether the property they own and rent out is classed as an HMO.

To help with this we have done some research for you and have gathered together this information on what an HMO property is and also what you need to ensure is happening in your property so that you are legally compliant.

Is My Student Let an HMO?

This is a question we have been asked many times and have seen on discussion boards across the web. Although the answer may not be straightforward legally, in most cases it is considered to be an HMO if more than one “household” is living in rented accommodation and shares facilities. This is not our definition, this is taken from the Citizens Advice website and represents a fairly simple way of determining if you are renting an HMO.

The next obvious question is then “what is a single household”? Well again if we turn to Citizens Advice website their definition is:

A single household is where members of the same family live together, including unmarried couples. For example, if you lived with a friend and a couple that is three households.

So in most cases renting to a group of three or more students who are sharing a kitchen, bathroom and other facilities will mean this is an HMO, even if two of the students are a couple, this is two households sharing facilities.

If a house has been converted to be a set of bedsits with communal areas this is also an HMO.

There are some other things to consider, such as is this mainly a residential property and is it the residents main or only home and that includes students on a full time course even if they go home to live elsewhere in holiday periods.

Exceptions are allowed for University Halls of Residence and properties managed by Housing Associations and Local Authorities.

Your HMO Responsibilities

Now you’ve established that you are responsible for an HMO student property you need to be aware of certain extra regulations that come into force. These are:

  • Larger HMOs which have five or more occupants or are three or more stories need a local authority license.
  • Extra fire safety measures are needed by way of smoke and heat detectors and safe fire exits.
  • You must have good water supplies and drainage that cannot be unreasonably interrupted.
  • All gas and electric appliances must be safe and have annual gas safety checks. Electrical items must be checked every five years.
  • Communal spaces must be kept in a reasonable state of repair and decoration and should be generally clear of obstructions.
  • There must be sufficient waste bins and disposal facilities.
  • The living accommodation and any furniture supplied must be clean and in a good state of repair.

As you can see, it is not a simple matter to take on and HMO and regulations are generally being tightened in response to the actions of rogue landlords who are abusing the system.

Mistoria Group are student property investment specialists, we have many years experience in sourcing and renovating properties to create a student HMO property portfolio. Done correctly a HMO can provide an excellent return on investment. Done badly it will be a drain on your time and resources and can lead you into difficulties.

We would be happy to talk to you about your investment plans and to show you the benefits of an HMO Armchair Portfolio, so why not call us for an initial discussion?