Are you keen to either begin or expand upon your property investment portfolio with a house of multiple occupation (HMO) opportunity? Why not consider making a HMO property investment with Mistoria Group? With over 200 years of combined experience, we’re experts in this industry and can help you to find the perfect HMO property to meet your requirements.

However, before you can hope to invest in a high-yielding HMO for students and professionals, you’ll need to do your research first. Luckily, we can help here, too. From stipulating the minimum room size in a HMO to uncovering the basic health and safety regulations for this type of property, we’ve done all the hard work for you.

Without taking the time to read up on the specific HMO requirements of the UK and your local council, you could expose yourself to penalties and unlimited fines. This is because HMOs are subject to more stringent rules and regulations than traditional buy-to-let properties. So, if you want to become a licensed HMO that abides by these important practices, simply carry on reading. However, bear in mind we are only exploring the minimum HMO requirements. To ensure you’re meeting all the HMO rules and regulations for the size and type of HMO property you’re keen to own and manage, it’s well worth contacting your local council, property investment agency or doing further independent research.

Licence

First and foremost, you’ll need to find out whether you’ll require a licence for your HMO. While you might initially believe that every legal HMO needs a licence, this isn’t the case. HMOs only need to be licensed if five or more tenants are occupying the property. These tenants must all be from separate households with shared use of facilities like the bathroom, toilet, kitchen or utility room.

Typically, a HMO licence will cost £1,100 which can be split into two more manageable payments. For larger HMOs (with more than 10 units of accommodation), the fee is increased by an additional £50 that’s applied to every extra unit of accommodation above the standard figure. For particularly large HMOs, this fee can be increased further but is capped at a maximum of £6,000. To apply for a HMO licence, you’ll need to use the Government website.

Regardless of whether your HMO requires a licence, all HMOs must meet minimum UK standards. An extensive range of HMO rules and regulations exist to ensure these properties are safe, well-managed, have enough space for the occupants to comfortably live, and come with an adequate kitchen and sanitary facilities.

Room size

According to section XI of the 1985 Housing Act, the legal minimum room size for HMOs is 6.51 square metres (70 square feet) if it’s being inhabited by just one person. For two adults, however, HMO room sizes need to be increased to at least 10.22 square metres (110 square feet). Depending on the facilities provided and the size of the bedrooms in your HMO, you’ll be able to calculate how many single persons or couples your HMO can comfortably and legally accommodate.

Heating

In the UK, each living accommodation area in a HMO must have adequate means of space heating in every room and the ability to be fully controlled by the occupants. This includes the bathroom, bedrooms, living areas, kitchen and staircases. Within one hour of being switched on (when outside temperatures are -1°C), the heating system of a HMO should be able to reach and maintain 21°C  in living areas and bedrooms, 22°C in bathrooms and 18°C everywhere else in the property.

Unlike bedsits, landlords are not required to equip tenants with the means to measure their energy usage in a HMO. As dictated by the Government’s The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014, this only applies to self-contained properties, like bedsits, that include sleeping, cooking and sanitary area. In properties where these facilities are shared (like a HMO), these regulations aren’t applicable.

Many councils will also ban the use of certain heaters in HMOs, such as portable heaters, paraffin heaters and oil-filled radiators. To ensure the heat stays where it’s supposed to, you also need to abide by insulation regulations by providing adequate structural thermal insulation to the property, including 270mm of loft insulation and the insulation of cavity walls.

Kitchens

For a HMO, the kitchen is an incredibly important communal space. This is why HMO kitchen requirements are particularly specific, for example, those insisted on by Nottingham City Council. Measured from wall to wall, this area must be at least seven square metres. At the kitchen’s narrowest point, it should also be no smaller than 1.8m. A related requirement is that there must also be an adjoining living area or dining room with a minimum size of 11 square metres. Alternatively, you could choose to introduce a kitchen diner that should be at least 16.5 square metres.

For HMOs with more than six people living there, the kitchen needs to be at least 10 square metres with a living or dining room of at least 16.5 square metres. HMOs with a kitchen diner also need to have a minimum size of 19.5 square metres. The same 1.8-metre kitchen width rule for HMOs with less than six occupants also applies to these larger HMOs.

At a minimum, a HMO kitchen must be equipped with the following; a fixed impervious sink and drainer (complete with splash-back), a constant supply of hot and cold water to the sink, an electric or gas hob with four rings and an grill in the oven, a 30amp supply for every electric cooker, fixed worktops made from an impervious material, one cupboard per occupant, a large fridge/freezer, hygienic and unobstructed refuse disposal facilities, an electric extractor fan, a fire blanket, slip-resistant flooring and adequate dining space (unless there is a separate dining/living area).

Sanitary facilities

When it comes to sanitary facilities in a HMO, you’ll need to ensure that there’s one bathroom for every four tenants that occupy the property. For more than four tenants, you must make sure there is a separate toilet from the main bathroom in order to provide adequate access to sanitary facilities for all the tenants.

For a greater number than five tenants, you’ll be required to add more bathrooms and toilets, but this will vary depending on the exact number of occupants and whether they have access to a basin/hand washing area in their bedroom. Alongside being suitably heated and well-ventilated, all baths, showers and wash hand basins in a HMO’s washroom or bathroom must come with taps that provide an adequate supply of cold and constant hot water.

According to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, specifically its Amenity Standards for HMOs 1994, every bathroom should possess a hand washing basin of at least 560mm x 430mm and either a bath with the minimum dimensions of 1700mm x 760mm or a shower cubicle measuring 800mm x 800mm. Occupants should also have adequate room to dry themselves and the toilet (whether separate or part of the bathroom) should be properly connected to the main foul drainage system.

Energy efficiencies

To comply with the private rental market’s current rules and regulations, any property that is put on the market to let must have an energy performance certificate (EPC). An EPC is quite simply a certificate that provides a property with a rating based on its energy efficiency and gives guidance on how the property’s carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced.

Rated from G to A (A being the most energy-efficient rating and G, therefore, being the least energy efficient rating), all private rented homes must meet the EPC ‘E’ energy efficiency standards before they can be put on the letting market. You should be able to provide the most recent copy of a HMO’s EPC upon request from your local authority.

Safety (Gas, fire & electrical safety)

An essential for any property supplied with gas is a gas safe report carried out by a qualified Gas Safe Registered Engineer. This gas safe report covers the inspection and maintenance of all gas installations and appliances (gas cookers, gas hobs and gas heating) and must be carried out annually as stipulated by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

With regards to electrical safety, any electrical applications and installations should also be classified as safe with the help of an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). This report should be conducted every five years by a qualified electrician.

Fire safety regulations are more stringent and extensive than the fire safety rules for buy-to-let properties. This is because a HMO houses occupants from several different households and these tenants may not necessarily interact with one another. Pair this with the locks on private bedroom doors and many vital escape routes may be blocked off in the event of a fire.

Landlords of HMOs are therefore required to provide adequate fire safety measures to protect all occupants which relate to the type, number and location of fire precaution facilities and equipment. This includes smoke alarms, fire doors, clear escape routes, fire extinguishers and fire blankets. Smoke alarms, for example, should be installed on every level of a HMO that features a living area.

All HMOs should be fitted with automatic fire detection and alarm system – in HMOs, this is most frequently either a Grade A and Grade D system (BS 5839). For more in-depth guidance on fire safety in HMOs, please check out the information provided by the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACROS).

Security

Unlike standard buy-to-let properties, HMOs are subject to different security risks. For example, all tenants must be able to safely access communal areas (often including the kitchen, bathroom, hallway, and utility room) without the risk of unwanted visitors gaining unauthorised entry to the property. It’s therefore vital to secure entry points throughout the property.

The most important security aspect of a HMO is that the entrance doors be maintained in good condition and should not feature a lock operated by a key on the inside of the property as this would allow tenants to lock one another out. Typically, these entrance doors are made to comply with British Standard 8621 by featuring either automatic deadlocking rim night latches or mortice sash locks. Any communal doors must be able to open internally without a key, using turn knobs for example.

Mistoria Group HMO opportunities

Keen to find your very own HMO investment? With the professional guidance and advice from the highly-experienced team at Mistoria Group, we can find the right HMO investment to meet your requirements and exceed your expectations. Thanks to significant local knowledge of the North West region and an extensive team of chartered accountants and letting agents, we can take care of everything from sourcing properties to managing tenants and taxation.

We can call upon a wealth of expertise and knowledge across a range of different property types and investments. Included in our selection of property investment services are armchair investment, joint venture investment and merchant investment, ensuring we can meet the needs of every budding or experienced landlord.

To find out more about our property services or to send us an enquiry about one of our high-yielding investment opportunities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can either speak to a member of our team by calling us on 0800 500 3015, contacting us via email at info@mistoriagroup.com or using our handy online investment enquiry form. Once you’ve filled in your basic contact details (including your name, number and email address) alongside your enquiry, we’ll ensure that a knowledgeable and friendly member of the team will be in touch shortly.