A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from the same household, but share facilities such as the bathroom and kitchen. HMOs are subject to specific HMO regulations, including more often than not, the requirement for a HMO licence from the local authority.
When a HMO Needs to be Licenced
A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) needs to be licenced if it is occupied by five or more people from two or more households. This requirement is known as mandatory licensing.
In addition to mandatory licensing, some local authorities also operate additional and selective licencing schemes. These schemes extend the requirement for licencing to smaller HMOs or to specific areas where there is a high concentration of HMOs. Additional licensing applies to all HMOs in a designated area, regardless of size, while selective licensing applies to specific types of HMOs in a designated area, such as those with a history of anti-social behaviour.
It is important for landlords and HMO property managers to check with their local authority to determine if their HMO is subject to additional or selective licencing, and to understand the specific requirements for these schemes. Read more about HMO licences.
The local authority has the power to impose conditions on the HMO licences and can carry out inspections to ensure that the conditions are being met.
What to Expect During a HMO Inspection
A HMO inspection is a comprehensive evaluation of the HMO property and its facilities by the local authority. The inspector will assess the standard of the property, the facilities provided, and the landlord’s compliance with health and safety regulations. By being prepared and ensuring that the property meets the necessary standards, landlords can minimize the risk of any issues arising during the inspection.
During an inspection, the local authority HMO officer will assess the standard of the property. This includes checking that the property is safe and meets the minimum HMO requirements for fire safety, electrical safety, and gas safety. The inspector will also check that the property has sufficient space for each tenant, and that shared facilities are in good condition. Read more about minimum room sizes in HMOs.
Most inspectors tend to assess the condition of the common areas, such as hallways, stairways, and kitchens, to ensure that they are well-maintained and safe for tenants to use. They will also look for any signs of disrepair or hazards that could affect the health and safety of tenants.
Tenants are sometimes interviewed during the inspection to assess their satisfaction with the property and to identify any issues that they have encountered. This information will be taken into consideration by the inspector when assessing the standard of the property.
The local authority may also ask to see the landlord’s record-keeping, such as fire risk assessments, gas safety certificates, and electrical installation certificates. This information will be used to assess the landlord’s compliance with health and safety regulations and to determine if any further action is required.
If Conditions are not Met
Here are some steps you can take to prepare for a HMO inspection:
- Review the Licence Conditions: Familiarize yourself with the conditions of your licence and make sure that you are meeting all the requirements.
- Check Fire Safety Measures: Make sure that smoke detectors are installed and working, and that fire escape routes are clearly marked.
- Ensure Electrical and Gas Safety: Check that all electrical appliances are in good working order and that the property has been checked for gas safety.
- Clean the Property: Make sure that the property is clean and tidy, including shared facilities such as the bathroom and kitchen.
- Organise Documents: Gather all relevant documents, such as gas safety certificates and fire risk assessments, to present to the inspector.
Smart Thermostats and Managing HMO Tenants
As a landlord of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), it is important to have a clear and effective strategy for managing the heating and your tenants in your property. By following best practices, you can ensure that your tenants are comfortable and that you are saving money on energy bills. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
- Clearly Communicate Heating Guidelines: Make sure that your tenants understand your heating policies, such as the hours during which heating is available, how to adjust the temperature, and any restrictions on usage. This can help prevent confusion and disputes over the use of heating.
- Set Fair Heating Times: Determine fair heating times that work for both you and your tenants. Some HMO landlords may choose to provide heating only during the evenings and mornings, while others may offer 24/7 heating. Whatever your decision, make sure it is clearly communicated to your tenants.
- Encourage Energy Efficiency: Encourage your tenants to be mindful of energy usage by providing them with information about how to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint. Consider providing them with energy-efficient appliances or offering incentives for reducing energy usage.
- Be Responsive to Tenant Requests: If a tenant requests a change in temperature or heating schedule, be responsive and make the necessary adjustments. This can help maintain good tenant relations and ensure that everyone is comfortable in the property.
An HMO inspection is an important part of the process of being a HMO landlord or manager. By preparing in advance, you can ensure that the inspection goes smoothly and that your property continues to meet the necessary standards. Taking these steps will also help to provide a safe and comfortable living environment for your tenants.
If you need professional HMO management in South London, or help with a HMO conversion, contact us.