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Laws on House in Multiple Occupation

An HMO (a house in multiple occupation) is a house occupied by three or more tenants who aren’t part of the same family. This is common practice amongst landlords, who are able to turn a greater profit the more people they let the house out to – often across a string of properties listed via an online property agent. Some properties are built with an HMO in mind. Some, need work to be done to them so as to make the property legal to rent to three or more tenants.

Coming into effect in October 2015, HMO licensing is now required on all properties with multiple occupants of three or more, particularly if they share facilities such as the kitchen or bathroom. It’s worth checking your scenario with local authorities, but in most cases, you will need to apply for an HMO license – even if you only meet a few of the selected criteria.

HMO Room Sizes

Landlords must adhere to minimum room sizes for an HMO. This is to ensure tenants have enough living space. For any room with a floor area less than 4.64, the landlord must notify local council authorities. Any room within an HMO with a sleeping area used by someone over 10 years old must be 7.51 square metres or above. If two people are sleeping there, the area must be equal to or above 10.22 square metres. Any room with an area less than 4.64 square metres must not be used to sleep in. Further details are also available via your local council authority’s website.

Property Conversion

If you’re planning to convert your property to an HMO, you’ll be visited for an assessment by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System within five years of completion, to check the work over. You may have to address any faults in the property immediately.

Converting rooms can be costly and time consuming. Spare rooms may be converted to bedrooms, storage spaces to toilets and walls built or moved to accommodate the sizing regulations. This is major renovation, so always ensure you’ve planned and budgeted correctly. If you’re planning to convert an attic or a garage space into sleeping accommodation, you may also have to apply for planning permission.

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Some of the best properties for HMO conversion are Victorian terraced houses, as they often come with a great dal of space and reception rooms which fit the sizing guidelines and can be converted easily. Although beware, many renters could be put off by the fact that the property doesn’t have a living room, should you want to convert it into a bedroom.

HMO Safety Regulations

This is one of the key elements of an HMO. Fire safety is one of the main elements of the license, and smoke alarms as well as Carbon Monoxide detectors must be installed. Plus, your local council will need to be presented with the a declaration that they are in safe condition. Gas Safety checks must be carried out on the property by an accredited engineer as well as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and test certificates for your appliances.

Fire doors may also need to be installed, with clear signs marking them out, as well as making sure the exits are free from any forms of obstruction. Tenants will also need to be given a sheet detailing what to do in the event of a fire. Emergency lighting for fire safety will also be needed. Lastly, each bedroom door should have its own lock.

When it comes to defining if the property is fit for human habitation, via the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, you’ll need to check for issues such as damp, ventilation, overcrowding, poor drainage and a constant water supply.  The safety checks for an HMO are rigorous, but once up and running, will ensure both your property and your tenants are safe and that the house itself is legal to rent to multiple tenants, earning you more money in the long run.

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