Your whistle-stop Guide to an HMO in Slough

News at Cameron King | 27/03/2020

Your whistle-stop Guide to an HMO in Slough

Do you rent out your property to a number of tenants? If so, your property may be considered a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and may require a license. With fines up to £30,000 from Slough Borough council, having an unlicensed HMO can prove costly, so read on to learn about what’s needed when letting a HMO.

Many landlords who let their properties out as HMOs possibly view it as an efficient way to run a portfolio with a higher rents received on a room by room basis.  The property type and location however can also be drivers and you find a number of HMOs in university towns with lots of students.  Whatever the reason, landlords need to ensure their HMOs meet the government’s regulations.

An additional consideration in Slough is the selective licencing in place for rental property.  Depending on where you property is located, a licence may be required and the attached map shows where licenses will be applicable.

To run a compliant HMO the first thing to understand what Slough County Council defines a HMO, whether a licence is required or not, and indeed, if you need planning permission.  

What is an HMO?

The UK government defines a HMO as a property where:

  • at least 3 tenants live, forming more than one household
  • and there is a shared toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities for all tenants.

It is a little confusing, but the key is in the numbers. If your property has two tenants that are unrelated, it’s not a HMO. For premises to be a HMO, there must be at least three unrelated people living there.

In Slough, if your property is a HMO and occupied by five or more unrelated people, it must have a licence. 

Cameron King’ lettings experts are up to speed with all the legislation regarding HMOs, so if you’re uncertain, contact the lettings team who will be able to advise.

What happens if a landlord doesn’t have a compliant HMO?

Slough County Council can issue fines of up to £30,000 for each breach of the rules. There are further fines payable if the property fails to confirm with the additional safety requirements imposed for HMOs.

What are the key compliance areas for running an HMO?

All landlords need to adhere to all the government’s rules and regulations (of which there are many) for letting a property which include having a valid gas safety certificates, EPCs and working smoke alarms. You also need to ensure the property is free from damp and mould and the tenant not likely to slip or trip within the property.

You also need to ensure that tenants have the ‘Right to Rent’ in England, and they are giving certain information at the start of a tenancy such as the government’s ‘How to Rent Guide’ and information about where their deposit is held.

These are just the requirements for a standard private let however with a HMO, especially if a licence is required, you are subject to many more rules and regulations, for ease please see the guidance from Slough County Council.  Key areas to consider are Health and safety, Minimum room size and Tenant checks 

Talk to a letting expert at Cameron King if you’re confused or unsure by any of the regulations.

Health and safety

Not only do you need to have a gas safety certificate, but if running a HMO, you’ll also need a periodic inspection of the electrics every five years, and to carry out a fire risk assessment. Examples of checks to make:

  • Are communal areas being kept clear so tenants can escape in the event of a fire?
  • Are fire doors fitted for escape routes?
  • Do furnishings comply with Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988?
  • Are fire blankets and extinguishers required?

Minimum room sizes

For HMOs licensed from 1 October 2018, sleeping accommodation needs to be a minimum of 6.51m² for a single person (if over 10 years old), and over 10.22 m² for two people.

Tenant checks – who is in your home?  

With all properties it is crucial to ensure you keep track of who is living in your property.  A partner may move in, a tenant may move out and move someone else in – and they may not tell you. This can put you in breach of the rules, especially if the new tenant isn’t legally allowed to live in the country. 

Expert property management from Cameron King

Running a compliant HMO is a complicated business, especially with councils being able to implement their own additional and selective licensing schemes. If you have an HMO, it is important not just to be compliant from the start, but be aware of any changes which may affect you and your tenants in the future.

Cameron King is able to support you by providing a specialist advice service for all aspects of running a HMO - and we can even apply on your behalf for a licence.

If you have a HMO, or are considering investing in one, speak to a Cameron King to learn more. Call us on 01628 667442 today, where a member of our experienced team will be delighted to have an initial chat with you.