The definition of a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) has been set out in the Housing Act 2004 and it also provides tenants with the protection they need through licensing requirements. If a HMO poses a hazard, the legislation makes it possible for the council step in and in some cases the council can even take control of the HMO where the health and safety, as well as the wellbeing of tenants is at risk, there are a protocol and procedure by the council and intervention only takes place after serving of relevant notices and giving the landlord time to remedy any issues and this only occurs in very extreme circumstances.

Therefore, landlords have a duty to put in place any additional safety measures along with maintenance measures all of which is set out in the HMO management regulations, depending on the local council in which the property is situated. We at Atwel Estate Agents are HMO Specialists and would be able to assist both landlords and tenants in relation to their obligations.

Measures required to a HMO may include:

  • Waste disposal facilities to be provided
  • The property has to be maintained
  • An inspection of all electrical equipment should be carried out at least once every five years
  • All fire alarms at the property should be maintained and fire escapes should be kept clear. Firefighting equipment should be provided as well as adequate Fire Protection measures for the property.

Reasonable steps must be taken by anyone who owns or controls a HMO as laid out in the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 to reduce the risk of fire and they must ensure that all tenants have a way of escaping the property in the event of a fire.

Tenants rights

Tenants living in a HMO have a legal right to ensure that the landlord meets all legal requirements. To add to this, HMO tenants also have the same rights and responsibilities as those tenants who are renting privately. These rights include:

  • Deposit protection as well as having the deposit returned to them when their tenancy ends
  • The property has to be suitably maintained
  • No hassle from the landlord
  • 28 Notice to Vacate, depending on your agreement

The rights of HMO tenants differ when it comes to Energy Performance Certificates. In cases where individual tenancy agreements have been put in place with shared facilities, the landlord is not required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate. In a property that has mixed tenancy such as shared and self-contained units, there is only a requirement for the landlord to provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the units that are self-contained.

Atwel James ensures that all landlords maintain the property correctly, making sure that it is safe. Our service includes:

  • Regular inspections of the communal and living areas (including rooms, depending on agreement between tenant and landlord)
  • Cleaning of the communal areas, if requested by landlord
  • Clear repair procedure provided to tenants

We understand that there are additional requirements when it comes to a HMO such as dealing with fire risks and fire safety but it is important to remember that HMO tenants have the same rights as private tenants. We always advise tenants to respect other people’s living spaces and our clearly defined ‘House Rules’ are to be abided by.