Managing a HMO - Our View
Where to Advertise
What type of Tenant
Inspections and Management
and so much more.....
I am an experienced multi-let manager working mainly with HMO's (House in Multiple Occupation).
Due to the increased management, responsibility and knowledge in the rules and regulations involved in a
HMO this can, in turn put alot of landlords off. I have even had discussions with letting agents who will not touch HMO properties. However I thrive on them, the extra involvement required means standards can be better maintained at your properties. Relationships with tenants are closer due to the more regular contact, allowing easier remedies with tenant issues (arrears, behaviour etc.)
Below is my view on the best and most successful way to manage your current/proposed HMO. I have only touched quickly here with this being such a large and expansive topic, and therefore will be featuring videos and articles on our blog section over the upcoming months.
Where to Advertise
Bolton as of October 2013 had 71 HMO licenses registered, at six rooms average that equates to 426 rooms (In comparison Bury Town centre had seven licenses). Then add in those HMO's not requiring licenses and this figure increases again.
Marketing at the usual portals - ZOOPLA & RIGHTMOVE do not work for rooms, so other than a property board what else can you do. My belief is always to be unique, you still have to do the usual work - property boards, internet portals, social media, etc. However everyone is typically doing that (and if your not you should be), so how do you stand out amongst the crowd.
Do you have tenant testimonials both current and old, video tours, Floor plans, Full HD photo. Is there any branding in place (if you don't know what this is don't worry, I will expand on this in a future article). I myself am in the process of a fantatsic new advertising portal which will encompass all this and more. Keep looking back for updates.
Type of Tenant
This is dependant upon your business model. Who do you want in your property? If you can, decide this on the outset before conversion/purchase takes place. Obviously different tenants require different things. Students will need desks, chairs and good broadband speeds. Professionals will look for clean and modern facilities and it will save you alot of money to do this then rather than deciding after the works are completed.
The biggest factor in this is how much rent do you want? Professionals will pay more, but require higher standards. Local Housing Benefit tenants will be happier with more standard accommodation, but do not have the income to support higher rents. Below is a brief summary of my experience with the various tenants you will see.
Probably the best tenant, if a certain beverage made tenants they would be these. They always come out great on the initial referencing, rarely pay late or develop arrears, (and are very responsive when they do), and do take care of the property. Granted there will always be an exception in any case, but they do make for a good tenant. The only disadvantage (should you see it as such) is standards need to be, and kept high. You can't ignore breakdowns and need to regular inspect to keep everyone happy.
Great individually but can be disaster in groups. You can have the well mannered studier or the party animal. Again each to their own in your selection, but the latter type are best kept to like minded individuals as so to not upset the early nighters. Just set in ground rules, remember as the manager/owner of the property you will be responsible for the control of anti-social behaviour. The great thing with students is Guarantor's are usually standard nd they expect it, and rent can be paid each term giving you a great cash injection to your business.
The hardest in terms of management. I find in house shares particular, benefit tenants have to be very well screened at the offset to ensure low risk of problems in the future. Before Universal Credit you could have housing paid directly, so depending on your rent, (Current allowance is £46.80 for a room as of 2014) you could have your full rent paid by the council. However the huge delay in payments from the new Universal Credit, and their refusal to pay directly, except with two month's rent arrears, means this once dependable source of rent has now gone. Also single benefit tenants are alot more likely to debt and flee than your usual family on benefits.
Inspections, Management and Fire Regulations
All HMO properites require an “Fit and Proper” manager to look after the tenants and property. They should
ensure all obligations are fulfilled, both the annual and weekly routine items are addressed and performed.
Below is an example list
Fire Risk Assessment
Legionairres Risk Assessement
Fire Alarm Test
Check fire exits Clear
House and room inspections
Fire alarm test* - no power
Emergency lighting* - no power
Fire Alarm Service*
Emergency Lighting Service*
PAT (Portable Appliance Testing)
Fire Extinguisher Servicing
Legionairres Risk Assessement
*This will be dependant on your requirements, if you are unsure see the Lacors Housing - Fire Safety manual.
You also need to make sure you meet amenity standards for the number of tenants on you license, (should it apply). Through the development of the HMO's I have built a good relationship with the council and understand what they expect in regards to standards and facilities, keeping you and your investment safe from legal issues. This link will take you to Bolton's guide howver check your own local council as they could vary.
All this and more means you no longer have to be put off by red tape and scary rules by going into multi-let investments. The money you will get in return is so much more in yield than a typical family home, and with “Rooms to rent” increasing in the search engines. Rooms are here to stay.
Just make the decision solo, or as a team with an expert like myself. What ever you decide I wish you luck and I am here should you have any questions.