In 2020, the UK government introduced Minimum Amenities Standards for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to ensure that tenants residing in these properties have access to basic facilities and living conditions. The standards apply to HMOs with five or more tenants forming two or more households. This article aims to provide an overview of the key provisions of HMO Standards and the impact they have on landlords, those who are looking to undertake a HMO conversion and tenants alike.
HMO Licensing Requirements
To enforce the minimum amenities standards for HMOs, local councils are responsible for issuing licences to HMOs that meet certain requirements. This licensing process involves a thorough assessment of the property, including its size, layout, and facilities. The licence specifies the maximum number of tenants allowed in the property, ensuring that overcrowding is avoided, and the living conditions are safe and comfortable.
Moreover, licensed HMOs are subject to periodic inspections to ensure that the standards are being maintained. These inspections are conducted by the local council or a third-party inspector, who assesses the property’s compliance with the minimum amenities standards.
In addition to the licensing requirements, some local councils may implement selective licensing schemes for certain areas or types of HMOs. These schemes aim to tackle issues such as antisocial behaviour, poor housing conditions, and high levels of crime in specific areas by requiring all landlords to obtain a licence to operate their HMOs. Selective licensing schemes may also include additional conditions and standards that landlords must meet to ensure that their properties are safe and habitable.
Minimum Room Sizes
One of the key provisions of the HMO Standards is minimum room sizes. For example, the minimum bedroom size for one person is 6.51 square metres and for two people over 10 years old, it is 10.22 square metres, however local authorities may have their own stricter requirements.
Kitchens generally must measure 7 square metres for every 5 residents, but again certain local authorities may have their own guidelines.
Generally, the minimum living room size is 11 square metres for every 5 residents, but local authorities may have their own specific regulations regarding this. Read more about HMO Room Sizes.
Fire safety is an essential aspect of property management, particularly for landlords who rent out houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The HMO standards prescribe specific guidelines and requirements for ensuring that HMOs are safe from fire hazards, and that tenants are adequately protected in case of a fire outbreak.
The HMO standards require landlords to install and maintain smoke alarms in all HMOs. Smoke alarms must be located on every floor and in every room used as living accommodation. The smoke alarms must be interlinked so that when one alarm goes off, all the others are activated, alerting tenants to the danger of a fire.
Fire doors are another essential feature of fire safety in HMOs. The doors must be made of fire-resistant materials and fitted with appropriate seals to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. Landlords must ensure that fire doors are kept closed at all times, and that they are not obstructed or propped open.
Escape routes are also critical in ensuring fire safety in HMOs. The HMO standards require landlords to provide clear and unobstructed escape routes from every part of the property, leading to a place of safety outside the building. Landlords must ensure that tenants are familiar with the escape routes and that they are clearly marked and well-lit.
Landlords must also ensure that fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets, are available in HMOs, and that they are regularly maintained and serviced. Additionally, landlords must provide tenants with information on the fire safety procedures in the event of an emergency, such as calling the fire service, evacuating the building, and using fire safety equipment. Read more about HMO Fire Regulations.
Kitchen and Bathroom Facilities
The HMO Standards require that each tenant has access to their own kitchen and bathroom facilities, or a shared kitchen and bathroom that is kept clean and hygienic. This helps ensure that tenants have access to basic amenities and can maintain their personal hygiene in shared housing.
Heating and Ventilation
All HMOs must have a heating system that is capable of maintaining a temperature of at least 21°C in the living room and 18°C in other occupied rooms. This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it helps to ensure that the occupants of the property are comfortable and can live in a warm and healthy environment. Secondly, it can help to prevent health problems such as respiratory illnesses, which can be exacerbated by cold and damp living conditions. Finally, it can help to prevent damage to the property itself, as cold and damp conditions can lead to issues such as mould and dampness.
In addition to heating, the HMO standards require that the property has adequate ventilation to prevent condensation and dampness. This is important because if a property is poorly ventilated, moisture can build up in the air and lead to issues such as condensation and mould growth. These can not only be unsightly and unpleasant, but can also lead to health problems for the occupants of the property.
The Minimum Amenities Standards for Houses in Multiple Occupation 2020 aim to provide safe, secure, and healthy living conditions for tenants in shared housing. By setting out clear provisions for room sizes, fire safety, kitchen and bathroom facilities, heating and ventilation, the HMO Standards help ensure that landlords provide suitable and comfortable homes for their tenants.
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