What special requirements are there for letting multiple occupancy houses?

Q: I am buying a house and am considering letting it to a number of individual students, each with a separate bedroom but with other facilities shared. Are there extra landlord responsibilities when letting a single property to a number of individual tenants?

A: It appears that you intend to let the property as a 'House in Multiple Occupation' ('HMO'). This is where an entire house or flat is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. Full details of HMO classification can be found in the Housing Act 2004.

Mandatory HMO licensing applies to all HMOs across both England and Wales that are three or more storeys and are occupied by five or more persons forming more than one household. Councils have discretionary powers to extend licensing to other categories of HMO that are not subject to mandatory licensing. Failure to licence the property can result in prosecution. Licences are not transferable and therefore even if the property is already licenced you would have to apply for a new licence.

Landlords of HMO's also have extra responsibilities and The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England)/(Wales) Regulations 2006 (there are slight differences in the legislation depending on whether the property is in England or Wales) apply toall HMOs, whether they are licensable or not, and impose certain duties on landlords and occupiers of such buildings. The Landlord must ensure that the Property is compliant with Fire and Electrical Safety regulations and also ensure that any Gas Boilers are checked each year and issued with a safety certificate. Consideration should also be given to the most appropriate form of tenancy agreement for the situation.

HMOs are a relatively new and complex concept, so it would be advisable for you to seek appropriate legal advice before embarking on such a project.

Further information relating to this question is available from Peter Blakemore, a Solicitor with GHP Legal tel Wrexham 291456,  or from Victoria Hibbert, a Solicitor with GHP Legal tel Oswestry 659194. For Personal Injury, Employment and Family matters we offer a FREE legal diagnostic clinic every Monday 12-3pm Wrexham or Wednesday 12-3pm Oswestry.

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