Rules regulating the operation of HMO properties have doubled up in recent years, because of increased demand for shared accommodations.
Here are some practical legal tips to help you remain on the good side of the law when managing your HMO property:
Draw up a written lease agreement
Writing up a tenancy agreement seems like an ordinary task for many landlords, I know, but there are still others who neglect to draft one for their tenants.
There’s no excuse for landlords doing business in 2015 to still neglect drafting a tenancy agreement. You can download a standard format off landlord websites or they can ask for a copy from another colleague in their area and copy its contents.
Experience has taught us old timers in the business that, without lease contracts, we are only setting ourselves for potential problems. The tenancy agreement or lease contract expressly states the period of tenancy, the payment schemes, and other obligations of both parties. And without these, both the tenant and landlord can refuse to perform these obligations.
Build relationships with the local authorities
There’s no better way to learn about the applicable regulations in your area than to get it straight from the source.
Introduce yourself to the members of the council at the beginning of your journey as an HMO landlord and build a relationship with them. This relationship will come in handy when changes in HMO regulations are introduced, because they can easily explain if the rule will apply to the property you are running or not.
So the next time you see a notice coming from the local council, don’t just store it at the back of your drawer. Read the letter, find out what they want to discuss with you, and visit these folks right away.
Health and safety regulations
An important but little known safety regulation is that HMO properties must be inspected by an installer registered with the Gas Safety Register before tenants can move in. In addition, all electronic appliances found in the property must be tested and given a safety certificate every five years.
All landlords are also required to post a sign in a prominent place in the building which contains your basic information such as name, address, and telephone number. I know that this is a pretty basic rule, but some HMO properties I’ve visited recently don’t have a sign like this in their premises. Maybe these landlords have forgotten that failure to put up a sign like this could lead them to a fine up to £5,000.
Conduct regular inspections
In non-HMO properties, landlords are required to notify their tenants before they can enter the room being rented for inspection.
The case is very different for HMOs.
HMO landlords are given the power to enter the tenants’ rooms even without permission, and they are even encouraged to conduct these inspections as often as they can. Tenants shouldn’t take it against their landlord when he/she chooses to inspect your room every few weeks or so. There are hefty penalties in store for landlords when they fail to conduct regular inspections.
Let’s say a fire broke out in the HMO property and a landlord failed to check the fire alarm weeks before the incident. He or she may face some liability in the incident, especially when someone gets injured or dies.
To avoid any problems, be sure to keep abreast of new regulations.