You have the best chance of obtaining an HMO licence if you know the local HMO requirements; but what are they?
As is the case with all rental properties, HMOs need to maintain the minimum standards of health, safety and utilities in order to remain operational. It must be noted here that these requirements apply to all HMOs, regardless of their size, use class or number of tenants. Just like HMO licensing fees, these requirements tend to vary from one place to another. So, the easiest way of knowing what the exact HMO requirements are specific to your location, is to write to your local council.
Some of the most basic and common requirements for HMOs in general across the UK are detailed below.
Fit and Proper Administration
This is perhaps the most important yet most overlooked HMO requirement. To successfully apply for an HMO licence, you must ensure that the ‘HMO manager’ (landlord, developer or specially appointed manager) is ‘fit and proper’ to manage the property. This means that the said person:
- Has no criminal record
- Has no record of ‘breach of trust’
- Has no record of breaching landlord codes/norms/laws
Amenity Standards for HMOs
Your HMO is likely to get a licence only when the property is certified by the local council/competent authority to have meet at least the minimum housing amenity standards. These usually include minimum acceptable specifications for:
- Room size per tenant
- Adequate ratio of number of bathrooms/toilets per to tenant
- Adequate cooking/kitchen facilities per tenant
- Natural lighting
As a responsible HMO operator, you will be required to keep the gas safety certificate checked and updated each year. Failure to do can result into your HMO licence being revoked.
Every HMO needs to be adequately safeguarded against potential fire and smoke hazards. This includes installing the appropriate level of interconnected smoke detectors, fire doors to all high risk areas including bedrooms, break glass fire alarms (where applicable), emergency lighting and fire escapes. Furthermore, where the HMO is Licenced, these safeguards need to be certified by the local council each year.
All HMOs need to furnish certificates of electrical safety for all installed appliances whenever requested for by the local council. The common standard is for the property wiring to be tested and certified by a professional electrician every 5 years, although some councils also recommend the PAT testing of electrical devices at regular intervals as well.
To be eligible for an HMO licence, you must also make sure that your HMO is installed with adequate heating infrastructure. Heating requirements vary largely from one location to another. For example, some local councils will prefer central heating while others prefer local heating, so again, always check the exact requirements with your local council first before starting any work on any HMO conversion / building project.