What is a HMO?
A house in multiple occupation (or HMO) is a rental property which is occupied by three or more people, who form two or more households and share facilities within the accommodation (including toilets, bathrooms and/or cooking facilities)
A household lives as a separate unit and a household could be a single person, a couple, a family with children.
Living areas are include kitchens, bathrooms and toilets. Also, the tenants do not have to share all of them for the property to be defined as a HMO.
Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) can be formed of:
– an entire house or flat
– a house which has been converted into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation
– a house which has been converted into one or more flats
– building which has been converted into self-contained flats and where the conversion did not meet the building regulation standards published in 1991 and more than one third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.
Do you need a HMO licence?
You are required to obtain a licence from the council if these 2 things apply:
– There are 5 or more tenants in the property
– There are 2 or more separate households in the property.
In some areas, landlords of smaller HMOs must also get a licence (in fact some areas now require all private landlords to obtain a licence). It is advisable to check the rules of your local council.
Standards and obligations of a Landlord letting a HMO
Before obtaining a HMO licence, you are required to meet certain standards and obligations. When you apply for a licence, the council will check the property to see if it meets the right standards, (for example the size or number of bedrooms) and is properly managed. The council will also check that the landlord is a ‘fit and proper’ person.
Any breaches of the rules child result in a refusal for a licence or revocation of a licence if you already hold one.
HMO licences usually last 5 years. In some areas, councils make landlords apply more often.
Consequences of not having a HMO licence
The consequences of failing to obtain a proper licence can be rather dire and can include:
– Being unable to evict tenants with a section 21 notice
– Being banned from renting out properties
– Being forced to repay the tenants rent. You could be given a fine and forced to repay up to 12 months rent.
Sometimes the council can take over the management of the property.