The Dangers of Non-Compliance with HMO Building Regulations: What Homeowners Need to Know

Whether you realise it or not, if you’re a homeowner with a property that you rent out to three or more people who are not from the same household, you have a house in multiple occupation (HMO). In the UK, these building categories are subject to specific building regulations aiming to ensure their safety for tenants and neighbours.

Whether you realise it or not, if you’re a homeowner with a property that you rent out to three or more people who are not from the same household, you have a house in multiple occupation (HMO). In the UK, these building categories are subject to specific building regulations aiming to ensure their safety for tenants and neighbours.

If you own an HMO, failing to comply with these regulations can result in consequences ranging from fines to litigation and imprisonment. Not to worry, in this article, we look at HMO building regulations, why they are indispensable, and how you can implement them to remain on the good side of the law.

What Are HMO Building Regulations?

HMO building regulations are standards covering various aspects of property ownership and management applying to properties occupied by multiple tenants. Generally, they cover aspects such as;

  • Fire Safety: Per HMO regulations, as a landlord, you are required to carry out regular fire risk assessments and provide fire safety information to tenants. Also, the law mandates you provide adequate fire detection and evasion systems such as smoke alarms, fire doors, extinguishers, and clearly marked escape routes in case of emergencies.

  • Gas and Electrical Safety: If you own an HMO, you must conduct annual gas safety checks and periodic electrical inspections to ensure your building stays up to standard. Not only that, it is also obligatory to provide gas and electrical safety certificates to your tenants and the local authorities to ascertain you have carried out these checks.

  • Heating and Ventilation: Legally, you must ensure your property is free from dampness and mould by providing sufficient heating and ventilation systems before your building qualifies as an HMO.

  • Waste Disposal: HMOs must have suitable arrangements for waste storage and disposal, including recycling facilities. The landlord must also provide bins and bags for the tenants and ensure that the waste is collected regularly.

  • Room Sizes and Amenities: Section 67(1) of the 2004 Act stipulates the minimum HMO room sizes for sleeping, living, and cooking quarters. Failure to meet these design requirements may mean you have to repurpose your building for other types of lease arrangements.

Avoiding The Dangers of HMO Regulation Non-Compliance

  • Apply For an HMO License: You can apply for an HMO license from your local authority. However, be prepared to go through rigorous assessment as you will need to pass a fit and proper person test before your license can be approved. Furthermore, you’ll have to pay a fee and provide detailed information about your property, tenants, and management arrangements.

  • Stick To HMO Standards: Over time, some building structures are bound to depreciate due to age or overuse. To ensure you’re clear of any wrongdoing, you should update and renovate dilapidating HMO structures as they show wear and tear.

  • Keep Records and Evidence: Maintaining records of your compliance with HMO building regulations, such as gas and electrical safety certificates, fire risk assessment invoices, and maintenance contracts, can help you sidestep any inquisition that could bring you at loggerheads with the law.

  • Renew Your HMO License: For you to remain in business, you’re to renew your HMO license every five years or as soon as rental circumstances change.

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