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What is an HMO Property?

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What is an HMO Property?
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Over the years, landlords have found different ways to maximise the money they make from a property they own. A common way of achieving this is by turning a large property into an ‘HMO’.

But what exactly is an HMO property? Are there standards and obligations which the landlord must meet – and what can you do if the landlord isn’t keeping to them? Read our blog below for an answer to these important questions, and more.

What is an HMO Property?

A ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ (HMO) is a property in the UK which has shared areas, and is therefore lived in by more than one household. The most common facilities that are shared in an HMO include:

  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Toilet

An HMO is usually formed by a landlord in a larger house which was originally designed for just one family. This strategy enables landlords to receive more rent for the property, by having three or more separate tenants, rather than only having one.

What is a large HMO Property?

An HMO property is considered ‘large’ if there are five or more tenants living there, forming at least one household. A bathroom, toilet and/or kitchen needs to be shared between these residents for it to qualify as an HMO.

A large HMO building will typically be at least three storeys high. Your landlord will usually require a license for a large HMO, but this is not always the case with regular HMOs. The average cost of an HMO licence in the UK is around £600. However, this cost can vary from council to council, with some as cheap as £60 and others as costly as £1,000.

Advantages of an HMO Property for landlord

A landlord will typically setup an HMO property to make more money. One family living in a property will not usually pay as much rent as three families combined – meaning that turning a single family house into an HMO can increase cash inflow for the landlord.

Historically, there is often reasonably high demand for HMOs throughout the UK. This is because tenants are always looking for affordable places to live – and an HMO is usually cheaper for tenants than a regular apartment or house to themselves.

For a landlord, having an HMO also prevents them from putting ‘all of their eggs in one basket’. When a landlord has a single family in a household, they lose their income if the family moves out. But with an HMO, one family moving out does not prevent the landlord from receiving income from the other families living in the building.

Standards and obligations for an HMO Property

A landlord who owns an HMO property must meet a number of standards and obligations. If the property is being shared by four or more people, the landlord must ensure that:

  • The property is not overcrowded
  • Fire safety measures are in place
  • Shared areas and facilities are clean and in good condition
  • Electrics are checked every five years
  • There are enough facilities for cooking and washing, for all residents
  • There are enough rubbish bins

Councils also have standards for the bedroom sizes in an HMO. A bedroom must be 4.64 square metres for a child under 10 years old; 6.51 square metres for a person aged 10 or over; and 10.22 square metres for 2 people aged 10 or over.

What to do about bad conditions in an HMO

The section above outlines the key criteria that a landlord must meet in an HMO. If you live in an HMO and feel that there are hazards in the property, or that the standards are not being met, then you can contact your local council.

The council will then investigate your complaints and if they find that HMO standards are not being met, they can force your landlord to take action and correct any issues.

Can I reclaim rent on an HMO?

In some circumstances, you are able to reclaim rent if your landlord has been prosecuted by the council for running an unlicensed HMO. You will typically need to apply to a tribunal to go through the process of reclaiming this rent.

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