Blog

Living in a HMO Property

There’s no place like home

We develop & create beautiful HMO & Co Living accommodation in the North East of England.

Our market is mainly young professionals, many are recent graduates or young workers saving for their first homes or staff working in city businesses who need a room to make their first home and some are contractors on assignments and industry workers on project placements.

We work with many businesses, recruitment agencies and industries over the city to help provide their staff with fantastic all-inclusive accommodation.

Our main goal is to provide an excellent service to our tenants.  All rooms are within safe and secure accommodation.  Decorated and furnished to a high standard.  We have our own cleaning team, maintenance and fire safety officer to ensure we deliver living spaces of a high standard.

We do not ask our tenants to make their home in any accommodation we would not want to live in ourselves.  If we are offered below-standard houses, we will provide the landlord information on how to improve the accommodation to the level expected by our tenants.

As well as choosing thoroughly vetted tenants for our accommodation we also match tenants to the existing housemates.  This works wonderfully and creates opportunities for tenants to socialise and live in a comfortable community feel.  We use ‘group chat’ for each house so our new tenants can join and be welcomed into the house. We find this helps with the initial move and settling-in process.

We are not just an HMO agent, we put a lot of care into our work to ensure we provide a brilliant all-round service to all our customers: tenants, landlords and investors.

Vikki Bond – Owner of Rooms 2 Let Sunderland

Zero Drug Policy & Anti Social Behavior

Specified at the start of each tenancy you should serve two codes of conduct. One is mandatory for HMO management as part of the licence terms you have with the council. The other is to reduce the potential problems you may face during a tenancy.

A Zero Drugs Policy:

Its important prior to the start of the tenancy you are aware of this and the problems it can create.

Taking a tenant on with a drug problem you are at risk of the following

  1. Tenant having mood swings when drugs are un – available . This is all drugs not just hard drugs, Especially weed. Tenants become a nightmare to live with and will cause trouble with your other tenants.
  2. Weed stinks and will put off new tenants from living in your HMO. As soon as you open the door you can smell it. It is also not nice for others living in the property.
  3. All drugs are illegal and a breach of the AST terms –
  4. If house mates are on weed 99% are lazy and their rooms become a mess
  5. Other drugs bring a whole load of issues and you can imagine it being very messy.

How to avoid this !

Its hard to avoid if i am honest. Especially with weed because a lot of people smoke it! You can do some investigation work. Smell your potential tenants on viewings . ( i dont mean sniff at them like sniffer dogs but weed smokers do have a distintive pong about them. Even when not carrying fresh weed – i can smell the fact they smoke it.

Have a conversation with the potential tenant. You learn lots from making conversation with potential tenants. Just general conversation that you can keep them engaged in. Watch the way they come across.

People on drugs have traits that you can spot and notice.

Check their social media – even a locked profile may have a profile pic of the classic weed symbol or Bob Marley.

I check their close circles for classic signs of no good.

When sending over everything to book the room – make sure the Zero Drugs Policy is highlighted and get them to sign it with everything else.

Anti Social Behavior Policy

As part of licensing requirement you must have a anti social behavior policy in place. This is methods to identify anti social behavior , deal with anti social behavior . Warnings and strikes and how you will act if the tenant continues to breach the policy in place.

This was brought in to help end the poor managed HMO properties where communties were plagued with bad tenants and landlords that didnt care.

This together with the anti social behavior policy will scare off anyone who may have slipped through your initial radar .

Its a firm and fair approach and will help reduce any problems.

Over the years i have managed HMO with a whole load of different circumstances and it can be an absolute nightmare when you end up with a no good tenant.

Check out – How to deal with nightmare tenants !

When is a Property a HMO

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

If you want to rent out your property as a house in multiple occupation in England or Wales you must contact your council to check if they have any restrictions or specific requirements and find out if you need a licence.

You must have a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO in England or Wales. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all the following conditions apply:

  • it is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
  • some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
  • at least 1 tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)

Even if your property is smaller and rented to fewer people, you may still need a licence depending on the specific area so you should always check with your local council first.

You can check this online using the postcode

Restrictions

The licence fees vary as they are set individually by each local authority. 

A licence is valid for a maximum of 5 years.

Future Proof your Property

When was the last time you updated your HMO property.

If you are seeking to let a property to working professionals, young workers then your HMO must be to good standard.

Young workers that have been at work all day or doing long shifts want to come home to nice accommodation. They want their comforts as well as their basic needs.

Back in the day, HMOs generally had plain Magnolia painted rooms with mis-matched second-hand furniture.  Party houses.  A lot has changed in 20 years.

Today a good HMO property should have the following

  1. Comfortable double bed – hard wearing – decent mattress
  2. Smart TV
  3. Matching – hard wearing and comfortable furniture
  4. Storage solutions
  5. Desk – for work – study
  6. En suites (Preferred)
  7. Black out blinds
  8. USB sockets
  9. Smart lights
  10. Fast and reliable broadband is essential

Book an assessment of your property today

Safety & Security

Providing safe and secure HMO properties is our main objective.  Therefore, we have highly trained property management team members for maintenance, fire safety and cleaning.  Everyone works together to provide a great service to tenants.

In addition, we have CCTV monitoring at properties. #01 Video monitor door bells, secure entrance – exit doors all with fire safety thumb-turn locks for quick escape in the event of an emergency.

Book a property assessment today to see what security you can add to your property to offer excellent secure properties.

Fire Safety in HMO Properties

If your property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) which is subject to licensing, you must also comply with licence conditions in relation to fire safety. The mandatory conditions include a requirement that the landlord installs smoke alarms, keeps them in proper working order, and gives a declaration to the local authority, on request, of their safe condition.

Our fire safety officer can assess your property and provide details of the correct alarm system for the HMO property.  Systems include emergency lighting, smoke detectors and heat sensors.  Our fire safety officer is also qualified to test systems and provide certificates every 12 months to comply with licensing requirementsThe safety officer can also provide adequate fire-fighting equipment. 

Property managers are fully competent to test alarm panels each week, carry out weekly visits checking all communal areas, the Fire panels, fire equipment and sensors.  Inspections of all communal hallway and stairways to ensure no items are blocking escape routes.  They also undertake regular briefings to educate tenants on aspects of Fire Safety. I.e. How to prevent fires, what to do in the event of fire.

Additional items to consider

  • Always make sure that all the gas appliances provided are maintained in good order and that a ‘Gas Safe’ registered engineer carries out a safety check each year.
  • Maintain all electrical installations (ie fixed wiring) and any portable electrical appliances provides (i.e. microwave cookers, kettles, toasters), and make sure they are safe to use.
  • Make sure any furniture and furnishings they provide meet the fire resistance regulations.

All furniture and furnishings in the HMO property must meet the Fire standards for Furnishings. It’s the property managers responsibility to ensure tenants do not bring non-compliant furniture into the property.  Our Fire Safety Officer also arranges PAT (Portable Appliance Tests) on appliances to ensure they are safe.

Fire safety should be considered for all types of properties not just HMO properties.  Even if you plan to let a property as a HMO which does not require a licence, I always recommend factoring in a good fire alarm system, emergency lights and fire-doors and provide Fire blankets in the kitchens as minimum.

The HMO property may not require a licence at this point in time, however standards are steadily improving and this may mean that the HMO could be included within the licencing requirements in the future. When refurbishing properties now, think ahead and plan for the future.

Future proofing properties is the key to success

If you would like your HMO property to be assessed or have a property you are considering turning to an HMO please do not hesitate to contact me

Advertising your HMO

When advertising the property think of who you are trying to attract as an ideal tenant and create a tenant profile.

Start with dressing the rooms and then progress to the communal areas in your property to convey them as being occupied by careful, clean and stylish tenants.

Stage each room with furnishings to make them look appealing so the potential tenant can immediately visualise enjoying living there.  

Examples include: –

  • Dress the dining table with linen, place settings, cutlery and simple crockery and wine glasses etc..
  • Make up the beds with matching bedding and contrasting scatter cushions.
  • Put matching towels in the bathrooms and en-suites
  • Make use of simple ornaments, elegant photo frames and small plants to make the place feel homely   

Use a quality camera and take pictures that provide a view of the whole room.  Make good use of the available light and take a few shots at quirky angles and close ups of a few details.

To advertise the rooms in your house on-line, use popular room portals. Gumtree is also a popular channel to engage some potential tenants.

This should be complimented using traditional methods such as putting a notice in the windows of the local shops and on noticeboards in the surrounding area.

I recommend using an HMO Letting Agent for your advertising as they will have access to all specialist room advertising portals as well as their own database of tenants looking for your fabulous all-inclusive rooms.