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Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Advice for people who own, or act as agents for the owners of, HMOs.

Both the manager, and owner, of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) have a duty to properly manage that house.  The term HMO can include shared student housing, bedsits, shared flats, buildings converted into flats, hostels, and guest houses.  “Manager” means someone who takes payments either directly or indirectly from the occupiers; typically it will include both owner and managing agent.

This factsheet explains some of these requirements of the management regulations.  These are:

  • The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006  (which apply to all HMOs except those comprising buildings converted into self-contained flats) and
  • The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation(Additional Provisions)(England)

Regulations 2007 (which apply to those HMOs which are buildings converted into self-contained flats)

The purpose of the regulations is to ensure that proper standards of management are exercised  Generally this means keeping the HMO safe and in good order and repair; please see overleaf for a list of the requirements in more detail.

What happens when the regulations are not complied with?

We would normally seek your agreement to deal with the problem. Where this is not possible (or in extreme cases):

  • the council may prosecute (please note that you would then have a criminal record) and
  • (in the case of a licensed HMO) there may be grounds to revoke the licence

Where there is an owner and separate manager then both can be responsible; in these cases each party should be clear about their roles both in contract and under housing law.  Both should be aware that they are legally accountable and may be prosecuted (for a failure to comply with the regulations).

Isn't the tenant responsible?

Tenants may be responsible for some things under the tenancy agreement.  However the management regulations impose an overriding responsibility to ensure that matters are put right when problems do occur. This is because the failure of one tenant can affect all the other occupiers.

General advice on management practice

Good management is both proactive and reactive.  It involves properly responding to complaints from both tenants and neighbours.  It also means inspecting the HMO at regular intervals; the frequency will depend on the age and condition of the property, extent of sharing and occupier characteristics.  Also fire alarms, emergency lights, gas and electrical installations need inspection at appropriate intervals.

You should balance your duties as a manager with a tenant's right to "quiet enjoyment" of their home.  Inspection of their accommodation must be with their knowledge and consent; except in emergencies you must always give at least 24 hours’ notice of this.  This notice, does not give you an automatic right of entry into the accommodation if it is not convenient for your tenant. (If reasonable access is refused you should obtain advice from your solicitor or a professional organisation before taking any action.)

You should keep records of your visits (and any repairs or action taken) and your certificates (e.g. gas safety checks and servicing of fire alarm systems).  

The requirements

  • The manager is to provide his name, address and telephone number to all the occupiers, and display this in a prominent position
  • All means of escape from fire to be kept free from obstruction
  • Fire alarms and fire fighting equipment to be kept in good order
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the occupiers. This includes protecting occupiers from falls (e.g. from low windows, off flat roofs and into light-wells as well as other hazards), but will also cover electrical, gas and other safety
  • The water supply is maintained, tanks covered and fittings protected from frost. The water supply is not to be unreasonably interrupted
  • The drainage system (including rainwater drainage) is maintained
  • The manager must supply a copy of the latest gas certificate within seven days of the Council requiring it
  • Ensure that the electrical wiring is tested at no less than five yearly intervals, and supply a copy of the test certificate within seven days of the Council requiring it
  • Ensure that the supply of gas and electricity to each tenant is not unreasonably interrupted
  • Maintain the common parts and fittings of the HMO in good order, clean decorative repair and free from obstruction. This includes handrails, stair-carpets, windows, light fittings and appliances
  • Common parts lighting is to be adequate and lighting available at all times
  • The common outbuildings, yards etc. are kept in good order
  • The boundary walls, fences etc. are kept safe and in good order
  • The doors to each letting are kept in good order
  • Each unit of accommodation, and any furniture provided with it, should be clean at the beginning of the occupation
  • Each unit of accommodation, its windows and ventilators are to be kept in good repair, and working order. The fittings and appliances are to be kept clean and in good working order. There are exceptions where problems arise from poor tenant behaviour
  • Proper facilities and arrangements are provided for the storage and disposal of refuse. This may require greater provision than the Council may ordinarily make.

The regulations (for buildings fully converted into self-contained flats) only impose duties on the manager in respect of those parts of the HMO which he can be reasonably expected to have control of. This is relevant where parts of the HMO are separately owned.

Disclaimer

We believe that this information is accurate; however the only authoritative version of this legislation is the text as presented in the amended regulations etc. themselves; these can be obtained from www.legislation.gov.uk.

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