If you are a property owner or landlord of a large house or residential property that is let to multiple tenants then you may find that you need a formal HMO licence to do so. If the property has three or more storeys and five or more tenants who form more than one “family household” then the property is considered to be a House in Multiple Occupation or HMO and as such you must ensure that you have a valid HMO licence in place.
Licensing Houses in Multiple Occupation
The process of licensing houses in multiple occupation is relatively straightforward, so there is no need to be concerned about the process being overly complicated.
However, it may be worthwhile double checking even if you believe that your multi-tenanted property does not fall within your local authorities mandatory HMO criteria and you don’t feel it needs a licence.
If there’s any doubt we recommend that you contact your local authority to double check if you need a licence or not… as local approaches differ and some councils will insist that you are licensed.
As previously outlined, the application process for licensing a HMO is not overly strenuous, and a quick phone call to your local authority will often result in an application form for the relevant licence.
Licences for houses in multiple occupation are normally valid for around five years, so it does not have to be renewed every year.
Fees for Licensing Houses in Multiple Occupation
Landlords should expect a charge for the process of licensing a house in multiple occupation, so make sure you find out what the costs are, as each council varies the fees that they expect landlords to pay.
Generally, landlords will be offered a HMO licence only if the property in question meets the requirements set by the local authority and it is fit for purpose – i.e. fit for housing multiple occupants.
Similarly, a licence will be granted only if the landlord is considered to be an appropriate person, deemed fit to hold a licence.
Holding a HMO Licence – The Appropriate Person?
To be recognised as an Appropriate Person to hold an HMO licence the landlord must be deemed by the local authority to be fit and proper to do so.
Landlords will fail to meet this standard should there be evidence to suggest that they have a criminal record to their name – such as fraud, sexual convictions or drug offences, they discriminate against race, colour or disability; or are known to have previously failed to comply with landlord regulations in the past.
As can be expected, HMO licences will also only be granted if certain standards and health and safety measures associated with the multi-let property have been met.
Health & Safety Considerations for Houses in Multiple Occupation
Smoke alarms, gas certificates, the maintenance and upgrading of electrical works are all seen as essential for well-maintained HMOs, and there should be documents and test certificates to prove that everything has been checked and passed by suitably qualified specialists.
Things such as gas certificates will also need to be produced annually to the local authority.
A HMO licence application will also only be passed if there is evidence that written terms of occupation have been seen and agreed by your tenants.
All the above are mandatory conditions for houses in multiple occupation, but you should also expect a few additional conditions.
You should also note that if you own more than one property that fits the criteria for a House in Multiple Occupation, then you will need separate licences for each HMO property.
More Information about Houses in Multiple Occupation
For additional information concerning houses in multiple occupation Investment Property Partners have prepared a number of additional guides for property investors covering the HMO license application process, Housing Health and Safety Rating Systems (HHSRS) and managing tenants in multiple occupancy property.
If you are a landlord or property owner and require further information or support on property management issues like those covered here please contact us to discuss how Investment Property Partners can help.
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More information about Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)… here →
More information about licencing houses in multiple occupation from the UK Government… here →