Guide to HMO's by Abode

What is an HMO?

The definition of a HMO – or house in multiple occupation – altered in October 2018 to any property occupied by five or more people, forming two or more separate households. Before this date, a HMO was previously (by legal definition) a property occupied by five or more people, forming two or more separate households and comprising three or more storeys.

As part of the 2004 Housing Act, HMOs with five or more occupants (including children) and that have shared amenities such as bathrooms, toilets or cooking facilities, require a licence.

However, you don’t need a license if:

  • the HMO is managed or owned by a housing association, local authority, police, health service or fire authority; or
  • the property only consists of self-contained flats, (although please note that an individual flat will require a licence if it is an HMO in its own right occupied by five or more people).

According to the Norwich City Council website, licensing is intended to make sure that:

  • HMOs are managed by a 'fit and proper' person;
  • each HMO is suitable for the number of occupants living in the building;
  • the management of the HMO (including repairs, amenities, health and safety) is satisfactory; and
  • high-risk HMOs can be identified and targeted for improvement.

HMO

 

What do I need to do to make sure I meet the minimum standards required for HMOs licensed by Norwich City Council?

Amenities such as heating, insulation, kitchen facilities, washing facilities and toilets will all need to be provided by all licensed HMOs, however the number and type of these amenities will depend on the type and size of the house.

For example, the provision of amenities for one-four people regarding washing facilities is that there must be one bath or shower and a toilet with a wash hand basin, but they can all be located within the same room, whereas when five people occupy a HMO, there must be a toilet separate, available for occupiers when the bathroom is in use.

To find out all of the specifications that were updated in October 2018, you can download the booklet here from the Norwich City Council website here:

HMO


How do I apply for my HMO license and what do I need to apply?

You can apply for the license on the Norwich City Council website here: It currently costs £40 to apply for the HMO license and – unfortunately – even if you are unsuccessful, you will not get this money back. You will also need to submit any supporting evidence that may be required at this stage.

According to the Norwich City Council website, you will need to provide information about the following:

  • The proposed licence holder.
  • The proposed manager.
  • Your bank or mortgage company if there is an existing mortgage on the property.
  • Any additional owners or any other interested parties’ details.
  • The property itself including:
    • the extent of any existing fire precautions;
    • the types of soft furnishings;
    • the number and type of each room (e.g. how many bedrooms);
    • the size of habitable rooms; and
    • the number of occupants.
  • The number and type of amenities (e.g. baths, cookers etc.).
  • The energy rating of the house (from the energy performance certificate) and type of heating.
  • Servicing information and safety certification for gas appliances, the electrical installation and the fire detection system.

 

HMO

What can I expect if I decide to proceed with a HMO?

The process of making your property compliant and obtaining the license will differ from place to place, but here at Abode we’ve put together a few basic steps you can expect when you decide the HMO property path is the right one for you.

#1 The agent matters.

Not all estate agents will have experience dealing with HMOs, and if you’re not sure, you really need the agent to know what’s what. This can range from knowing the best tenants to fill your property with, to the best area for a potential HMO investment project. We here at Abode deal with a range of HMO landlords and can help you get started on your first project, or help you pick your next!

#2 The perfect property.

Whether you have already got a property in mind, or you haven’t found the place to let yet, you still have to bear in mind that it will need to meet the legal lines. The red tape in terms of anything from bedroom size to oven to people ratio, these are all factors you must consider before applying for a license.

#3 Legalise it.

So, you have your place and now is the time to read the rules. Get out your measuring tapes and get your gas safety certificates in place. Make sure you know your property inside out, not only to make the application process a breeze, but to avoid any potential nasty surprises.

#4 Time to apply.

So, you know the green light is likely on its way – well what are you waiting for? Get applying. The process is simple and you can apply online here: It is, however, not free – it currently costs £40 – and typically you have your application processed within six weeks (including a 14-day consultation period).

#5 The potential to inspect.

Although an inspection is not required before a licence is granted, the council has to legally ensure your property is hazard-free, and this means at least one inspection. Here’s the good part, the licence fee you’ve already paid for covers the cost of this inspection! So, make sure there are no exposed wires and pop the kettle on.

#6 Name on the register.

Once your licence is approved, your name will appear on a public register. There are currently around 3,000 HMOs in the Norwich area, and you can look at them in map view or list view here:

I have questions, where can I turn?

Firstly, Abode has been working with HMO landlords for over 10 years, it’s at the heart of what we do. Any questions you have about the process or area of Norwich, we believe we would be able to answer. Feel free to call us or pop in for a chat with one of our friendly agents with any queries, no matter how small.

Alternatively, you can visit the legislation on the Housing Act 2004 with its updates here: , or email privatesectorhousing@norwich.gov.uk or even give the Norwich City Council customer contact team a call (0344 980 3333).