Are you looking after the safety of your HMO tenants?
There are various categories of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in England and Wales; this article is referring to shared houses in particular room where each individual will normally have their own bedroom and there will be general sharing of the bathrooms, W.Cs. and kitchen.
As a HMO landlord it is very important to abide by legislation and ensure that the property is safe for the tenants living in there. This means not cutting corners and contacting your local Environmental health team to confirm requirements. Even if the property may not need a HMO licence, there will be basic environment health and requirements and fire standards you will need to meet. These can vary from a fire door in the kitchen, smoke alarm, heat detector etc.The rules vary for each council so best to consult your council’s HMO team.
It is the actions of a few rogue landlords who are looking to make quick and easy money and have a total disregard for maintaining a certain standard in the property. Article 4 (amongst other regulations) has been introduced to stamp down on these landlords.
In all our Professional HMOs we always install fire doors as mandatory in all the bedrooms and the kitchen as a pre-cautionary measure.
Below is a recent example of a HMO landlord being prosecuted as he ignored HMO licence requirements.
The HMO had inadequate fire protection
Norwich landlord has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4,116 in costs for operating an HMO without a licence and for failing to provide tenants with adequate protection from fire.
The Landlord pleaded guilty at Norwich Magistrates Court to seven offences under the Housing Act 2004. Norwich Council prosecuted following two inspections in early 2013 during which the five-bedroom house was found to be operating as an HMO without a licence.
Investigating officers also found that the five bedsits had no fire doors or appropriate fire detection system. Some of the windows were also broken; the ceiling was cracked with loose plaster and gaps compromising the properties ability to resist fire and smoke. The landlord was also unable to provide a certificate of testing for the electrics within the property.
During the court case the Magistrate told the landlord: ‘you showed disregard for regulation, which involve people’s safety, particular fire safety. We think the offences were made more serious particularly the fire safety, bearing in mind that we consider you to be a professional landlord and you are in the building business. You should have known better.’
Norwich Council portfolio holder for private sector housing councillor Mike Stonard said: ‘We have recently given our support to Shelter’s campaign to stamp out rogue landlords and will continue to do all that we can to improve conditions in Norwich’s growing private rented sector.’
To conclude this article, I would like to point out that being a responsible landlord is extremely vital to maintaining a decent standard of accommodation in your shared houses. Your first port of call should be your local council’s HMO team to ascertain if your property requires a HMO licence or not and if not, then what the minimum standards to you will need to adhere to.