Leading HMO Experts, Slater & Brandley have advised that landlords considering investing in houses in multiple occupation must first ensure they understand the importance of the various HMO management rules if they are to stay on the right side of the law.
Getting things wrong can ultimately mean at best the need to rectify a problem and a possible fine and at worst a criminal conviction or even imprisonment in the case that a tenant loses their life as a result of a fire! And so getting things right from the start will ultimately make a landlords life easier and lead to less trouble in the long run.
The good new is that the HMO rules are simple as long as landlords take the time to read them and apply best practice when letting to tenants. Whilst local councils may have their own take on HMO management rules there are a number of national rulings that help simplify matters.
But where do you start? First things first – what determines when a property is a HMO? The answer to this one is simple – The national legislation states that any property where at least three tenants, forming more than one household, where the tenants share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities is indeed a HMO or House in Multiple Occupation (HIMO). Importantly this means that as a HMO landlord you are duty bound to provide a minimum level of fire safety within the property at all times. Ultimately this will include the installation of a fire alarm system throughout the house including smoke detectors in all corridors, stairways, kitchens, lounges and bedrooms. Fire doors must also be installed with intumescent strips and door closers plus emergency lighting and sufficient fire extinguishers strategically placed within the property and a fire blanket within the kitchen. Whilst the local council may say that no official HMO licence is required as the property falls under the minimum ‘five people sharing a three storey property’ make no mistake fire safety is mandatory. Ignore it at your peril!
Importantly, both the landlord and appointed HMO management agent will also need to keep a Fire Log – a detailed record of all fire safety visits. These should be carried out on a monthly basis at the very least on a typical six bedroom HMO property. The Fire Log must be made available to the Fire Brigade or indeed any local council inspector in the event that they carry out a spot visit.
Fire safety is only one part of professional HMO management. To find out more about how Slater & Brandley can help ensure you stay on the right side of the law feel free to contact our resident HMO Expert, Garry Slater on 0115 981 8855.