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Changes are looming for HMO properties

The benefits of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are well known among landlords - especially when it comes to solid yields.

But with extensions to the HMO mandatory licensing scheme aimed at improving lettings market standards looming quickly into view, multiple occupation landlords are set for a period of change.

The revised rules covered in the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 (yes, it's a mouthful) were agreed by Parliament in February and will be implemented across the sector on October 1 2018.

As part of the Order, from October an HMO, for licensing purposes, will be classed any property occupied by five or more people, forming two or more separate households.

Previously, the requirements included a property comprising three or more storeys but with this crucial element now redundant, many more properties will require HMO licences from October 1, with landlords needing to apply through their local council.

As well as obtaining a licence, landlords must also ensure any HMOs within their portfolios comply with said council's licensing standards with regard to room sizes and amenity standards such as kitchen facilities or the number of bathrooms.

Proposals also included rules on minimum room sizes where anyone may sleep, which we believe to be 6.51m2 for a single occupant and 10.22m2 for a couple.

The rules on management of HMOs remain broadly the same. Landlords or their managing agents need to ensure the details of the HMO manager are displayed clearly in the property. Enhanced fire safety regulations are also in place, crucially when it comes to keeping fire escapes clear, while electrical installation checks must be performed every five years.

And if that was not enough, landlords must continue to ensure safety within the HMO when it comes to water and drainage maintenance, gas and electrical supply and the general repair of the property.

Plenty of food for thought. And with October now not so far away, landlords needing to apply for a new HMO licence should do so without hesitance.

As a final note, it is worth noting that on top of the Order, local councils can add their own stipulations and additional licensing requirements into the melting pot.

If you have any questions about letting out an HMO, you can speak to your local Whitegates branch.

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