If you rent out a property to multiple tenants from different households, you may be managing a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). As an HMO landlord, you have important legal duties to ensure your tenants' safety and wellbeing.
In England and Wales, any property rented out by 3 or more people from separate households who share facilities like a bathroom and kitchen is considered an HMO. If your HMO has 5 or more tenants, it's classified as a Large HMO and requires a license from the local council. Licenses must be renewed every 5 years. Even smaller HMOs may require a license in some areas, so check your local rules.
As the landlord, you are responsible for ensuring your HMO meets basic repair and safety standards. This includes things like electrical wiring, heating, fire safety, cleanliness and avoiding overcrowding. For Large HMOs, requirements are stricter - for example, having annual gas safety checks and minimum bedroom sizes.
You must provide written tenancy agreements clearly outlining contract terms for your tenants. Keep the local council updated about any changes to tenants or property conditions. Standard tenancy laws apply, including protection from illegal eviction.
If your property does not meet standards, tenants can complain to the council's environmental health team, who may inspect the HMO and require improvements. Landlords can face big fines or even prohibition orders preventing the property from being rented out if not properly licensed and maintained.
Looking after an HMO brings increased responsibilities. But being aware of the rules and communicating clearly with your tenants and local authority will help everything run smoothly. Your efforts contribute to housing quality and safety for all.