HMO Legislative Information

The Housing Act 2004 redefined what constitutes a House in Multiple Occupation

Under the new Housing Act, a HMO is any house or a building or part of a building occupied by persons of more than one household. (For a full version of the definition of a HMO, please read Housing Act 2004 or contact Strategic Housing http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/housing/private-housing/)

This means that if you let a property to three or more unrelated tenants, the property is a House in Multiple Occupation and you will need to meet HMO regulations.

There is often confusion between HMOs and HMOs which require a statutory license. If you let a property with five or more bedrooms, over three or more stories (including cellar or loft if this forms an integral part of the living space), in which two or more of the tenants are unrelated (i.e. form two or more ‘households’), this HMO requires a statutory license.

LUSU Living work in partnership with Lancaster City Council to ensure the most up-to-date, information and advice on HMO legislation and Licensing is available to our LUSU Let property owners. We are always on-hand to give you any further advice you may need.

Safety & Security

LUSU Living manage around 200 student properties through and our LUSU Lets property management scheme, with over 700 tenants choosing to live in one of properties annually. One of the main reason students from Lancaster University and University of Cumbria choose LUSU Living is because of our reputation for providing high quality accommodation that meets current standards of safety and security.

Below is some general advice that all landlords should consider before renting:

Fire Safety – HMO

If you are letting your property to a group of students, either on joint or individual contracts, your property will be a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Properties let to an individual or a family are not generally HMO’s and the standards are different, for clarification landlords should read the Housing Act 2004 or contact Strategic Housing at Lancaster City Council, 01524 582000).

Under the Housing Act 2004 and if your property is a HMO, it should have:

  • Adequate fire precautions and means of escape from fire – self closing fire doors with smokes seals and thumb turn locks on doors
  • An automatic fire alarm and detection system – see below.
  • Cellars must be under boarded with detection.
  • A safe electrical installation, certified by an electrical safety certificate.
  • Emergency lighting system.
  • Fire fighting equipment – fire blankets and extinguishers, sited in appropriate places.

The technical bit:

Properties that are three or more storeys high require a fire alarm / automatic fire detection L2 system, in accordance with BS5839: Part 1: 2002

Properties that are a single or two stories high require a fire alarm system, in accordance with BS5446: Part 1: 1990

For more information, you should contact Strategic Housing, Lancaster City Council, Tel: 01524 582000.

As part of the fire safety criteria you are also obliged to provide soft furnishings that comply with regulations – items must have safety tags still attached.

Dos and Don’ts

Make sure you do:

  • carry out regular inspections of the property and document any issues relating to fire safety.
  • advise your tenants to come up with an escape plan to use in the event of an incident.
  • seek advice from your local council or fire prevention officer.

Make sure you do not:

  • assume your property is safe. You may need to show that you have taken adequate steps to ensure the safety of your tenants in the event of an incident.

Fire Safety – non HMO

While there are no specific fire regulations for this type of tenanted property in England, you do have a common law duty to ensure that the property you provide is safe.

In terms of fire safety in your property, it is important to consider:

  • how your tenants will escape from the property in the event of a fire.
  • how any fire will be contained.
  • how your tenants will be made aware that an incident has occurred.

What your property should have:

  • as a minimum, mains linked smoke detectors should be fitted along passageways and escape routes.
  • fire blankets in kitchen and fire extinguishers in appropriate places. (Fire extinguishers need to be serviced annually.)

Dos and Don’ts

Make sure you do:

  • carry out an annual inspection of the property and document any findings (other inspections to be carried out termly).
  • advise your tenants to come up with an escape plan to use in the event of an incident.
  • seek advice from your local council or fire prevention officer http://www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/.

Make sure you do not:

  • assume your property is safe. You may need to show that you have taken adequate steps to ensure the safety of your tenants in the event of an incident.
  • assume your tenants will test or change batteries in smoke alarms.
  • as part of the fire safety criteria you are also obliged to provide soft furnishings that comply with regulations.

Security

You should ensure that any property you let is secure. This means that doors, windows, garden walls/fencing and gates should be properly maintained. In addition, locks to doors, windows and gates should be of the highest standard and we would advise you to consider security lighting, where appropriate. A burglar alarm is always advisable and is a requirement of Code Plus Standard properties.

What your property should have:

  • external doors that are of a solid core timber or metal framed UPVC construction, or specialist laminated security doors in which all glazing is either wired or toughened laminated glass.
  • doors fitted with a five lever mortise deadlock conforming to BS EN 12209 Security Grade 3. Where a thumb turn release is required on a final exit door, these doors should be fitted with a lock case conforming to BS EN 12209 Security Grade 3 (minimum) and cylinder conforming to BS EN 1303 Security Grade 3 (minimum).
  • strong door frames which are well secured to the jamb.
  • windows of sound construction and fitted with window locks, where appropriate.

Dos and Dont’s

Make sure you do:

  • seek the advice of your local crime prevention officer.
  • inspect doors, windows, fencing and locks regularly and repair or renew them as necessary.
  • supply enough keys for your tenants.
  • consider changing all the locks or introducing suited keys when you have a change of tenants.
  • fit a key operated burglar alarm rather than one with a keypad.
  • advise your tenants to use all the property’s security features, particularly if it is going to be vacant for some time, e.g. vacation periods.

Make sure you do not:

  • carry out your own repairs. Poor workmanship could invalidate your insurance if you need to make a claim.
    issue keys to contractors for your property or allow them to enter a property unaccompanied.

Gas Safety

Landlords have a common law duty to ensure that gas installations and appliances supplied with their properties are safe.

This means that landlords or their agents have a statutory duty to:

  • ensure that fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition. This means that you should have gas installations and appliances serviced regularly and keep a record of the service.
  • have a safety check carried out on all gas appliances and flues annually or within 12 months before the start of a new tenancy.
  • check gas installations and appliances immediately before the start of any new tenancy, even if the gas safety certificate is still current.
  • have all installation, maintenance and safety checks carried out by a GAS SAFE registered engineer only.
  • keep a record of each safety check for 2 years – the GAS SAFE installer will issue this.
  • give a copy of the GAS SAFE installer’s safety check report to each current tenant within 28 days of the safety check, or to new tenants before occupation.

The statutory regulations are: Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These regulations are enforce by the Health and Safety Executive.

What your property should have:

  • safe, well maintained gas installations and appliances.
  • a current Landlord Gas Test Safety Certificate.
  • a record of regular appliance servicing.

Dos and Don’ts

Make sure you do:

  • ensure the gas meter and cut-off valve are easily accessible to the occupiers.
  • make it clear to your tenants that they should not carry out their own ‘repairs’ to any gas appliance.
  • ensure your tenants know that they must turn off the gas supply to the property and call TRANSCO on 0800 111 999 if they suspect a gas or carbon monoxide leak.
  • advise your tenants not to use any gas appliance they think is unsafe.
  • advise your tenants that you will need to get access to the property to carry out the necessary safety checks and maintenance to the gas appliances (with reasonable notice).

Make sure you do not:

  • allow anyone other than a GAS SAFE registered engineer to maintain gas installations or appliances.

The landlord and tenants’ obligations are statutory requirements and a criminal offence would occur if they were not met.

Electrical Safety

It is important to ensure that the electrical system and appliances supplied are safe in any property you let.

You are advised to make your own visual inspections as landlord or agent and have periodic checks carried out by a qualified electrician.

What your property should have:

  • an adequate number of sockets in each room.
    a safe electrical installation. This is certified by an electrical test certificate issued by an NICEIC or similarly accredited engineer.
    safe electrical appliances.

Dos and Don’ts

Make sure you do:

  • carry out an annual visual inspection and record this on a safety checklist (other inspections to be carried out termly).
  • carry out an inspection when your tenants change, recording electrical equipment, its condition and fuses fitted.
  • have periodic inspections of electrical equipment by a qualified electrician.
  • have five yearly inspections by a qualified electrician to ensure safety and that the electrical system complies with current electrical regulations. Copies of the certificate for the check should be made available to your tenants.
  • keep all records of these inspections.

Make sure you do not:

  • buy second hand appliances.
  • ignore worn flexes to appliances.
  • discard operating instructions for appliances.

Furniture

Properties advertised with LUSU Living need to be fully furnished.

You will need to be aware that as from 1st January 1997, all furniture in tenanted residential property must comply with the 1993 amendments to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 which extends the scope of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA). This covers the supplying (hiring or lending) of specified goods (upholstered furniture and certain furnishings) ‘in the course of business’.

These regulations cover:

  • armchairs, three piece suites, sofas, sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture.
  • beds, bed bases and headboards, mattresses, divans and pillows.
  • nursery furniture.
  • garden furniture which could be used indoors.
  • loose, stretch and fitted covers for furniture scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows.

They do not cover:

  • antique furniture or furniture manufactured before 1950.
  • bed clothes and duvets.
  • loose mattress covers.
  • pillowcases.
  • sleeping bags.
  • curtains.
  • carpets.

To comply with the regulations, your furniture must:

  • carry a manufacturer’s label which must be permanent and non-detachable.
  • have fire resistant filling material.
  • pass the ‘match resistance test’ as prescribed.
  • pass the ‘cigarette test’ as prescribed.

We recommend that you don’t purchase second hand furniture which would be covered by these regulations.