Starting out as an HMO landlord

First-time landlord HMO mortgages - what you need to know

Today, private rented accommodation accounts for one-fifth of all homes in Great Britain and is an option that’s very popular with students, young professionals and single people.

Demand for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) - where each individual bedroom in a property is let with facilities shared and paid for by at least three unrelated individuals – is increasing as people look for a more social and affordable way to live.

With greater potential for higher yields and higher monthly profits than traditional buy-to-lets, HMOs have become an appealing choice for many landlords. However, these benefits come with additional responsibilities and it’s important to be aware of these before starting out.

What are the main pros and cons?

The main advantage of an HMO compared to a standard buy-to-let is the potential for higher rental yields. Several sources of income from one property means you’ve got the opportunity to generate more rental income than if it was let to one household and you’ll be less exposed when a tenant leaves or falls behind with the rent.

However, HMOs do require more management time and costs than a standard rental property. There are many things to consider such as obtaining a license, making the property fit for purpose, maintenance, utility bills, insurance and finding multiple tenants.

Do I need an HMO license?

This is an important question for new HMO landlords to answer. Generally speaking, any property with five or more people from two or more separate households that share facilities will require a license.

However, in some areas, smaller properties with fewer tenants can also require a license so it’s important to check the policy with your local authority before proceeding.

A license must be obtained for every qualifying HMO property and will be valid for a maximum of 5 years.

What are my legal obligations?

Given an HMO has more than one household under the same roof, it follows that legal obligations to ensure the property meets and maintains the correct standards are more involved than for a standard rental. Here is a selection of some of the key issues you need to be aware of:

  • Number of rooms allowed in an HMO – the property must be fit for the proposed number of occupants, not be overcrowded and have the right facilities. Regulations on bedroom size may vary by council so it’s important to check
  • Maintenance – the property must be well maintained throughout with professional health and safety inspections performed every five years in line with the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
  • Gas Safety Certificate – this must be kept up-to-date, with an approved gas safety check carried out annually
  • Electrical & Fire Safety – appropriate smoke alarms must be installed and maintained and all electrical appliances must be tested every five years
  • Planning – if you intend to convert a property to an HMO, you must speak to your local council as some have the power to limit any such change
  • Council Tax - when a property is converted it can alter the band it’s in
  • Insurance – a specific HMO insurance policy is required to ensure you have the right level of cover

Do I need an HMO mortgage?

Houses in multiple occupation require a specialist HMO mortgage. Securing finance for property investment is an area that’s constantly changing so it’s important to get expert help in finding the best HMO mortgage.

As an independent broker we can provide you with an HMO mortgage comparison from a range of specialist lenders including Lendinvest, Landbay and Paragon.

The key to success is to do your research. There’s a lot of useful information on Government and local council websites that will help you to plan. At Vincent Burch, we can also help so why not contact us today and speak to one of our experienced HMO advisers for help in finding the best loan to suit your needs.

Please note we are not tax advisors or accountants and do not offer tax advice. You need to speak to your own tax adviser or accountant to see what the implications would be based on your circumstances.

Contact us today for personal mortgage advice and a quote, call 01603 340644 or email [email protected]

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