Category Archives for HMO Regulations

HMO Regulations Are Here To Stay – So Why Are Landlords Still Ignoring Them?

The Housing Act was passed in 2004.  The updates which affect HMO’s were passed in 2005.  They came into effect in 2006.

So why, 3 years on are there still landlords out there who are deliberately circumventing the law – and avoiding their legal responsibilities not just to the local authorities but to their paying tenants and customers?

I receive a lot of daily updates on the HMO market and some of what I read drives me from sadness to despair to shame to anger – knowing that these unscrupulous landlords are adding fuel to the media storm and public perception that already exists out there – that most landlords are unfeeling capitalist plunderers treating tenants like a meal ticket and providing them with unfit accomodation.

Now I and you both know that this is not true.  A professional landlord is a member of a national professional landlord organization, a professional landlord has systems and checks in place, a professional landlord has maintenance schedules that they follow to keep their property in top condition – and a professional landlord cares about the service they provide – because it provides him with shelter, food and water to live the life he or she seeks to live.

Its time to kick out the slum landlords, time to stand up and be counted as professionals – so next time you hear anybody slating off the landlord community, just step in with a few words of advice and examples of your own showing that we are providing a good and necessary service to the local community.

And in regards to HMO regulations where we started.  Well, they are there for a reason.  We may not like them, we may not agree with all of them but its the cost of running your business.

These are just two examples of dozens I could share with you but I hope you get the message.

The time for providing ill-suited, unhabitable accomodation with poor standards of cleanliness and structure have to end.  HMO regulations are there to protect and ensure that a consistent standard of accomodation is provided nationwide and its about time landlords woke up to this – it’s nothing personal, this is business.

How Small is That House! HMO Regulations Would Not Allow It!

A brilliant article on some of the smallest houses in the world.

However, if this were a HMO, then HMO regulations would not allow you to live in a place this small – even though people do and will live in smaller areas than the HMO regulations allow.

I understand and support the need for regulation – however I find myself asking – why is it that space requirements differ according to council and area?  Why is it that somebody in London can live in a space that is smaller than someone in Cambridgeshire for instance?  Why should any person have to endure different levels of living space dependent on where they live in the country?

A prime example I can use myself is where a room in a 6 bedroom HMO that I own has been deemed too small for occupation despite the fact that I had a 6 ft 2 fella living in it for 8 months with no problems at all!

HMO Regulations are there to protect the tenant but at the same time, there needs to be national standards and guidelines applied to ensure that both tenants and landlords are not unduly impacted by a bureaucratic need to differentiate and justify the existence of civil servants.

It’s Official – HMO Regulations Are Confusing For The Average Person in The Street

I was recently reading an article on a great question and answer site about whether or not you can rent a property but only put some of the tenants on the tenancy agreement.

The reason it piqued my curiousity was because it fell under HMO Regulations and started to raise issues.

The question raised was if 2 couples and a single person got a place together in a 3-storey building, did they then need a HMO licence?

Both the question and the answer to me brought many confusions over the HMO Regulations into question but for me; the main question that needed asking was – are the people living together as one household or are they unrelated?

The HMO Regulations are unneccesarily complex and this is one area where normal law-abiding citizens are affected.  According to the HMO Regulations, the real issue surrounding 3-storey buildings comes into place if 5 or more people sharing are living as 2 or more households.

If the people in the question were say a couple and their brother or sister, then technically, they are one household.  That alongside the other couple would make 2 households.  If they are all related, then they are one household.

You can see why its overtly complex, needs re-addressing by the next (hopefully landlord-friendly) government and needs simplifying so the average person in the street can understand the HMO regulations.

New HMO Regulations Out Shortly

Some new changes to the HMO Regulations have come out – and it appears that 2-storey HMO’s may not require fire doors provided that they are off reasonable risk!

I’ll be finding out more details and posting shortly but thought that you should know that there is bright news at the end of the tunnel.

Also, check out if your council has an accreditation scheme as they may pay for works to be done to your property – I’ll write further about this later in the week about our experiences with this.

HMO Regulations Are Impacting Landlords Livelihoods

In another ironic twist of fate, I see that yet another council is coming down hard on the evils of HMO’s and kicking up a fuss due to self-interest and lack of understanding about the benefits of HMO’s.

This time its Chester Council who have decided to refuse change of use status to two HMO’s which together would house 5 and 10 students.  One of the HMO’s was already functioning as a HMO and if this has had gone through a few years ago, it would have sailed through with no issues.

Today though – its a different matter.

No longer content with refusing permission for home-owners to modify their houses or developers to bring new accomodation into the area, they are now jumping on the bandwagon of the recent Communities and Government report on Houses of Multiple Occupation (see my blog post on this whole issue) and the planning rules around them.

Some of the comments that were passed by councillors who probably don’t own any rental property and do not truly understand the housing stock and impact upon the wider market included the following:

  • The number of students made for a “very unbalanced community and a breakdown of community life”
  • The application did not include any off-street parking and parking and traffic could be an issue
  • “HMOs should not be allowed if family dwellings are lost”
  • “We do not want the character of the area to be affected”
  • “There are concerns the whole area could be on a downward spiral”

The comments are banal, unjustified and show a complete lack of understanding of the current societal needs for housing.

When we consider that in the original application, the planning team recommended it be passed for a number of good reasons, its interesting that the development control manager decided to refuse them based on a change in policy.  In the original proposal, the planners had decided to pass the applications based on:

  • the neighbours had not objected;
  • there were already student properties in the same street and surrounding areas;
  • there was a need for student accomodation in the area;
  • independent inspectors did not believe they would cause any unacceptable harm to the character of the locality, the amenity of neighbours or highway safety.

The time is coming when both central and local government need to understand and reflect upon the housing needs of today and move towards embracing these through a positive approach of consultation, regulation and policy.

  • we do not have enough housing stock to meet demand
  • its unlikely that 5 and 10 bedroom houses are going to be occupied by families in todays shrinking family circles
  • students bring revenue and custom into the areas that they live in
  • if families wanted to buy these houses, they would have done – of the two houses that were refused change of use, one had been a HMO for years – the other had been completely refurbished – a project 99% of families would run from quickly
  • its highly unlikely that more than 50% of HMO tenants will have a car – and students even less likely
  • community life is already dead in most towns and cities – if councillors and the government face up to this fact rather than using it as an excuse to deny landlords from providing highly demanded accomodation, then we can all move along and start thinking about how to re-ignite community from within, rather than from the sidelines

To read more of the original article, just click here

Is Your Council Trying To Enforce HMO Regulations On You?

Seems like councils are cracking down everywhere on “rogue” landlords.

Day after day, I get alerts of this council and that council “cracking down” on the landlord community.

Whilst I applaud and uphold the need to meet health and safety standards, it does seem that HMO landlords appear to be getting a bad name from a few rogues who cannot be bothered to implement the required regulations.

My top tips for meeting the required regulations are:

  • ensure that what is being asked of you is fair and still valid (ie there is no need for washhand basins in every bedroom now; this was revoked last October)
  • ensure that you get at least three quotes for work that needs doing – and in the case of electricians, make sure they have NIEC or Part P qualifications
  • if cashflow is an issue, work with the council and fire departments to schedule the work in a timely manner that meets the immediate urgent requirements but allows you enough time to find the funds for all the work (after all, most landlords don’t have a spare £5,000 available to just put in a fire alarm system, fire doors and the like)
  • be reasonable, work with the councils and fire departments and you will find that they are just people doing their jobs and relationships developed now will serve you well in the future

I would always recommend speaking to the local housing team or HMO officers before you buy in an area to make sure you understand what is happening, what their expectations are and to start putting names to faces as soon as possible.

That way, its not going to be you that the councils are cracking down on.