HMO, or Houses in Multiple Occupation, is a name given to living accommodation that is shared by three or more people, who are not related, as their significant place of residence. The property also sees these people sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities.
With respect to students, their term-time accommodation is regarded as their main residence so even if students return to their family home outside of term time, the HMO property is regarded as their significant place of residence.
Any landlord renting out a large HMO must hold a licence to do so. The following criteria have to be met for the property to be regarded as a large HMO:
· The property is rented to a minimum of five people who live as one household
· The building is at least 3 storeys high
· The tenants share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities
If all of these issues apply, a landlord must obtain a licence to let out their property. Landlords should contact their local authority for more information on how to apply for a licence and it is possible to instruct a property agent to undertake this work on your behalf.
A licence is considered to be valid for a maximum of five years and a landlord must renew their licence before it runs out. If a landlord has a number of properties classed as a HMO, it is essential that they hold a licence for every applicable property.
There are a number of conditions that the landlord must meet in order to comply with the terms and conditions of the licence. The home must be deemed suitable to play host to the number of occupants, and this includes size of the property and the facilities on offer. It is also important that the manager of the property, which is either the landlord or the agent, is deemed to be a “fit and proper” person. This is usually seen as someone who doesn’t hold a criminal record and who is not in breach of any landlords laws or any code of practice relating to being a landlord.
In order to comply with the regulations of being a landlord, it is important to provide the relevant council authority with an updated gas safety certificate every single year, to install and maintain smoke alarms and to provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances whenever a request is made. Individual local council authorities may make additional requests before issuing a licence, and these will be provided to the landlord or applicant at the time.
Any landlord who disagrees with the terms and conditions set by a local council authority is able to make an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. There will be a fee charged for applying for a HMO licence and this will be advised by the local council authority.
Given the demand for property, and the cost of individual rent, it is easy to see why many people are interested in renting in this manner. There is therefore an incentive for landlords to provide a service that is classed as HMO property. This means that many landlords are more than happy to comply with the regulation surrounding HMOs because the benefit to them in the long term is of value and benefit to them.