In this article
• The responsibilities of an HMO landlord
• HMO repairs
Being a good landlord of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) brings an additional set of responsibilities, which means that for renters of HMOs there is extra protection. This protection has been put into place as a result of previous situations where HMO landlords have been found to be failing at providing safe environments for their tenants to live in. Where a landlord is not complying with these additional responsibilities then a tenant can take action.
HMO landlord responsibilities
No matter what is set out in the lease agreement an HMO landlord must:
– Ensure that the property has annual gas safety checks
– Have an up to date legionella risk assessment
– Make sure the property is not overcrowded
– Provide cooking and washing facilities that are adequate for the number of tenants
– Make sure there are enough rubbish bins for all the occupants
– Carry out a check of the electric system at least every five years
– Ensure the property has proper fire safety measures in place, including working mains powered smoke alarms for every communal area, as well as all the bedrooms, and a heat detector in the kitchen
– Maintain the cleanliness and repair of the shared and communal facilities
Specific responsibilities relating to repairs
The tenancy agreement will set out who is responsible for which repairs and will usually make individual tenants responsible for repairs to their own belongings, as well as minor repairs to shared areas. The landlord responsibilities for repairs to an HMO property are very similar to a non-HMO property. HMO landlords are specifically responsible for repairs to:
– Any shared or communal areas of the property that are not minor
– The water and gas pipes of the property
– Heat sources, such as fixed radiators (but not, for example, a portable heater that a tenant has provided themselves), as well as water heaters
– The electrical wiring of the property
– The outside of the property and the structure itself, including the window frames and the walls
– All sinks, basins, baths and toilets
When it comes to making sure than an HMO landlord is fulfilling their responsibilities, the following checklist may come in useful:
1. Have you been shown evidence of an annual gas safety check and an electrical safety check that is not more than five years old?
2. Have you been shown evidence of a legionella risk assessment not more than two years old?
3. Does the property have working mains powered smoke alarms in all the bedrooms and shared areas?
4. Do you have a working heating system, including the radiators?
5. Does the property have enough bathrooms for the number of occupants?
6. Is the kitchen sufficient for the number of occupants i.e. is there enough space for food storage, preparation etc
7. Are the shared areas kept clean and are they well maintained?
8. Is there any structural damage to the property? For example, tiles missing from the roof causing leaks inside.
9. Are there too many people living in the property? For example, are there people sharing beds (who are not in a couple or related), sleeping on the sofa, or sleeping on the floor?
Where to go for help
For more information on HMOs contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or speak to the charity Shelter. If there are ongoing issues with an HMO landlord you can complain via the environmental health department of your local authority. (See our related articles on HMO and complaints and disputes.)