Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in Portsmouth & Southsea
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From 1 October 2018 mandatory HMO licensing is changing
A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property which is occupied by three or more people forming two or more households, where facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms are normally shared. It includes bedsits, shared houses and some self-contained flats.
Currently a HMO that has 5 or more households with 3 storeys or more require a mandatory licence. From 1 October 2018 mandatory HMO licensing is changing and mandatory licensing will no longer be limited to HMOs that are three or more storeys high occupied by 5 or more people sharing an amenity, but will also include buildings with one or two storeys. This is new legislation that will apply to landlords across the UK.
What buildings will be included?
- Properties with five or more people who form two or more households. This includes both shared houses and bedsits where occupants share amenities. The property must be their main residence.
- Flats that are occupied by 5 or more people who form two or more households that are within blocks of non-purpose built flats. This only applies where the block consists of more than 3 or more self-contained flats. This will include flats above and below commercial premises and flats in converted buildings.
- A converted building which contains more than one unit of living accommodation but at least one of the units is not contained behind its entrance door. For example where someone has to cross the common stairway to access a facility such as a toilet.
What is an HMO?
A HMO is a property which houses 3 or more people in 2 or more households where facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms are normally shared. It may include bedsits, shared houses and some self contained flats.
All HMOs require a license and are subject to management regulations and inspections under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
This ensures that the property is managed properly and meets certain safety standards. The licence will be valid for up to five years, and will then have to be renewed.
- HMOs are far more profitable to run than other types of residential lettings with rental incomes often two to three times those of single households.
- They require far more in terms of management time and effort.
- They require more in terms of initial investment to meet stringent health and safety regulations.
- Some types of HMO require the landlord to be licensed by the council.
What types of properties are classed as HMOs?
The following types of accommodation are all likely to be HMOs:
shared flats and houses
halls of residence for students or nurses
hotels or bed & breakfasts with permanent residents
some supported accommodation, such as foyers or'move on' accommodation for homeless people
What must I do to start an HMO business?
If you are operating or intend to operate residential lettings in this category you would be well advised to consult with your own local authority. Local environmental health and fire officers will advise on the requirements.
If you are contemplating conversions then local planning approval will be required and the building inspectors will specify standards and requirements.
A landlord operating HMO type property will be under all the usual obligations of a landlord to maintain the property, its structure and internal services, in a fit and safe condition.
In addition, landlords will need to arrange the management of their HMOs and in particular the common areas ensuring that:
- layouts and facilities meet minimum standards
- the property is maintained in a safe and habitable condition and that occupancy is maintained at an acceptable level
- you register with your local authority and provide details of residents and changes in occupancy
- a responsible person is identified to manage the property and that their contact details are prominently displayed on the premises
- stairways, passageways and fire escapes are cleaned and free from obstructions
- Fire extinguishers and fire alarms are regularly tested and maintained
Tenants of HMOs have a responsibility to cooperate with their landlords to ensure that the regulations are complied with. This may mean allowing access to rooms at reasonable times.
Tenants who don't pay their rent on time, who cause damage to the property or nuisance to other occupants and neighbours will be in breach of their tenancy agreement and could face eviction proceedings.
The following points are important for landlords of HMOs:
- Landlords operating certain types of HMOs will need a licence from their local council
- Landlords are liable for the occupiers' Council Tax and therefore an amount to cover this should be included in the rental
- Landlords converting properties into HMOs need to be aware of planning and building regulations.
- Environmental health and fire regulations must be complied with
- A special insurance policy will be required
- Nuisance claims brought by neighbours, are likely due to increases in noise and rubbish. If not managed correctly, the landlord could be held partly responsible for this
- The Landlord (or house manager) must, by law, be in control of the occupancy situation at all times. Tenants must not be allowed to come and go as they please without proper documentation. (This is also in the landlord's interest, as faciliates proper rent collection and eventual possession.)