Breaching HMO regulations can lead to large fines

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The head of a property company was recently given a record £180,000 fine for the bad conditions in their buy-to-let HMO houses, reports.

Inspectors who visited four houses found that fire blankets were missing, fire doors were faulty and smoke detectors did not work. In total, 31 HMO regulation breaches were recorded.

Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) are attractive investments as landlords can receive higher rental yields from several people sharing the house, compared to letting to a single tenant or family. There are commercial mortgages available to purchase or convert large houses to HMO use.

This case illustrates that HMO properties come with extra regulations that the landlord must comply with. The regulations are designed to protect the safety of tenants. Smoke alarms and fire doors need to be maintained and safety certificates are required for electric and gas appliances.

From October 2018, more regulations are being introduced. Local authorities will be able to specify minimum room sizes and limit how many occupants there are in each bedroom.

The definition of HMOs is changing, with some blocks of purpose-built flats classified as HMOs. The new regulations are still awaiting parliamentary approval.

Over 70 councils issue licences for HMO property, and licence conditions vary between councils.

Landlords who own non-HMO property are still subject to regulations concerning tenant safety. To issue a new tenancy, all property must have an energy efficiency rating of at least band E. Some older properties may require upgrading.

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