What is a HMO?
A property is classed as a HMO, or house in multiple occupation, if there are at least 3 tenants living there, forming more than 1 household.
A property would be considered a large HMO if it is at least 3 storeys high and has at least 5 tenants living there. In both circumstances, the tenants would need to share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities to be considered a HMO.
If you own a large HMO, you must meet certain standards and adhere to specific obligations.
An HMO could be:
What is considered a household?
A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together, tenants would be considered of separate households if they do not know one another or did not apply for the property under the agreement to hold the lease jointly.
What are my responsibilities as the Landlord? As the Landlord of a HMO, you have extra legal responsibilities compared to that of a landlord with a standard let. These added regulations are in place to reduce risk of fire and ensure decent facilities for tenants.
These responsibilities include:
What maintenance is the tenant liable for?
Tenants are only responsible for minor repairs to the living areas and for fixing any items they own.
Do I need a license?
As the landlord of a HMO, you must get a license from the council if the HMO:
Some councils also require other HMOs to be licensed. Please check with your local council to find out what the requirements are in your area.
HMOs don't need to be licensed if they are managed or owned by a housing association or co-operative, a council, a health service or a police or fire authority.
How much does license cost?
The cost of a license depends on the size of the property. A license for a HMO with 5 tenants or less is approx. £700, anything over 5 tenants will be charged at an addition £30 per tenant.
An ‘early bird discount‘ will be awarded, at the discretion of the council, if the application is made within 8 weeks of the HMO becoming licensable or within 8 weeks of the owner completing the purchase of an existing, licensable HMO.
How long does the license last for?
Licenses usually last for 5 years but some councils will allow them to run for shorter periods.
What do I need to do to ensure I can get a license?
When deciding whether to issue or renew a license, the council checks that:
What will happen if I do not have a license?
If you own a HMO that should be licensed but isn't, you can be fined and ordered to repay up to 12 months' rent (or housing benefit to the council).
Many people living in HMOs have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). If your tenants have an AST and the HMO should be licensed but isn't, any section 21 notice (two months' notice) you serve is not valid.
Licenses and terms vary depending on your local council. The information provided is based on the council of Northampton and is only a guide. Please contact your local council for full details.
How to turn my property into a HMO?
Not every property is suitable to become a HMO, however as every house is individual it is best to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced specialists. They will be able to provide you with expert advice and help to lead you in the right direction.
How can I find tenants for a HMO?
By contacting Barker and Smart HMO Specialists. We advertise on multiple property portals and thoroughly reference our applicants in order to ensure we find suitable tenants for your property.
How long does it take to fill a HMO?
Depending on the size of the property, location and demand, it can take up to 4 weeks to fill a HMO on average.
Where can I get advice about HMOs’?
Barker and Smart HMO Specialists, of course!