Last month we looked at why HMO (houses of multiple occupancy) projects can be lucrative for builders. Here, Deborah Durbin explores the guidelines.
The description of a HMO is a property that houses more than one person who is not related to another. Usually HMOs will house students, housing benefit claimants or single people who just need a place to call home. Your income may very well come from the local council who will either pay the claimant’s full rent, or top up what they can’t afford to pay. This is often a safe bet to get your rent paid, so long as you insist that the council pay the rent direct to you. If you rely on your tenants to pay every month, you can end up out of pocket when the excuses start rolling in. Having said this, I’ve had tenants who are in full time work come up with every excuse under the sun to not pay their rent; from being hospitalised to they haven’t been paid yet, but we will talk about what to do if a tenant doesn’t pay their rent later in the year.
Your responsibilities as an HMO landlord differ slightly in that you have to be shown to be looking after the whole property. You are obliged to provide a communal and fully equipped kitchen, including a cooker, microwave, utensils, pots and pans, plates, bowls and cutlery. You will need to include a washing machine, ironing board and iron, plus a fire extinguisher/fire blanket in the kitchen area.
With regards to furnishing the property; you are required to provide a bed and mattress, wardrobe, curtains/blinds and bedside table in each room that is occupied and ensure that each bedroom door has a lock fitted on it. You do not have to provide bedding or towels for your tenants.
The other communal areas that you would be responsible as a HMO landlord are the bathroom/s, toilets, lounge and dining area. All of which must be furnished with seating, a TV, storage (for the lounge) and adequate washing facilities in the form of a shower/bath, basin and WC (for the bathroom).
As you can see, it’s quite an extensive list and when you furnish a HMO property, it’s always advisable to buy as much as you can from a second-hand shop and ensure that it is hard-wearing. In addition to this, you are responsible for making sure the communal areas are kept clean and tidy, usually once a week. Obviously, you can employ a cleaner to do this, but it is your responsibility to make sure that everything is running as it should be.
Owning a HMO can be a lot harder work than renting out a single property, but the financial rewards are much greater and if you get your local authority on board, the process should be plain sailing.