When it comes to letting out a property there’s a long list of rules and regulations that landlords need to be aware of.
While there are a number of rules and regulations that apply to both single residential properties and HMOs (check out our useful guide here) there are additional responsibilities that apply to HMO properties. In this article we look at the specific rules and regulations that landlords of HMO properties need to be aware of…
If a landlord is planning to convert an existing property into a HMO planning permission may be required – this will usually depend on the number of potential tenants expected to live in the property.
A HMO that is intended for 6 or fewer people does not tend to require a planning application, while larger HMOs that can accommodate 7 or more tenants will require a planning application.
However, some local councils will have additional restrictions in place so before a landlord begins work on converting a property they should check with their local council.
Large HMOs (a HMO with at least 5 tenants living there, who form more than 1 household) are required to have a license.
While smaller HMOs are not usually required to have a license although some local councils may require them to do so.
There will be license conditions that landlords are required to adhere to, these include but are not limited to:
• Ensuring the house is suitable for the number of tenants
• The landlord or agent managing the property will need to be considered ‘fit and proper’
• Sending an updated gas safety certificate to the local council every year
• Installing and maintaining smoke alarms at the property
• Provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested
The requirements for a license and its conditions will vary depending on the local area, landlords should always check with their local authority.
It’s worth nothing that a HMO that is managed or owned by a council, health service, housing association, police or fire authority do not need to be licensed.
Failure to obtain a HMO license can have serious implications for landlords:
• A landlord could be fined and ordered to repay up to 12 months’ rent
• Section 21 notices will be invalid meaning landlords will struggle to evict tenants who have an AST
As HMOs are considered to have a higher risk of fire than a single let property, there are additional fire safety rules for HMO landlords to abide by.
Again, local authorities may have slightly different rules so it is always worth checking with them but generally the requirements include:
• Having fire doors installed
• A supply of fire blankets and fire extinguishers should be provided
• Specific door handles and locks should be installed
• Having fire and CO alarms installed, a working smoke alarm should be installed in every communal area and bedroom as well as a heat detector in the kitchen
More advice on the required fire and CO alarms can be found here - https://www.fireservice.co.uk/safety/landlord-advice/
Standard room sizes for HMO properties were introduced in October 2018 to ensure that tenants had enough space to move about freely.
There are minimum size requirements for both bedrooms and communal living spaces.
These minimum room sizes need to be met when a landlord applies for a new HMO license or applies to renew an existing license.
The minimum size requirements for bedrooms is broken down by the age of the tenant, they need to be at least:
• 6.51 square metres for a person aged 10 or over
• 10.22 square metres for 2 people aged 10 or over
• 4.64 square metres for a child under 10 years old
The minimum size requirements for communal living spaces depends on how many people will reside in the HMO.
• A HMO that has 1 – 5 people residing in must have a kitchen with a minimum size of 7sqm and an additional living/dining room of 11sqm or a kitchen/diner with a minimum size of 19.5sqm
• A HMO that has 6 – 10 people residing in must have a kitchen with a minimum size of 10sqm and an additional living/dining room of 16.5sqm or a kitchen diner with a minimum size of 19.5sqm
Again, some local authorities may set higher requirements for minimum room sizes, so a landlord should always check with their local council.
It is incredibly important that landlords are aware of these rules and are abiding by them. Tenants are well within their rights to make a complaint to the local council if they believe their landlord is not following the HMO rules and regulations.
If a complaint is made, the council will undertake an assessment of the property looking for specific hazards and can take action against the landlord if the property is deemed unsafe or not fit to live in.