Quickly, let’s go through the essential steps required to get a HMO property ready to rent, so you can – hopefully – start watching the non-passive money roll in.
- First and foremost, contact your local authority and find out if you need a HMO licence, and if so, find out exactly what you need to do in order to be granted one.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to ensure you meet a bunch of safely regulations, which may include a landlord Gas Safety check, installing fire proof doors, and having a Fire Risk Assessment conducted by a suitably qualified professional.
- Being granted a licence doesn’t necessarily mean you have met all your legal obligations – the licence is just one aspect of your duties – so ensure you familiarise and comply with the other HMO requirements and regulations relevant to you.
- Make sure the property is decorated efficiently for tenants, and furnished with all the items HMO tenants expect.
- Add some finishing touches, they can make a world of difference – believe me when I say they don’t go unnoticed. Putting up pictures and mirrors in communal areas doesn’t only provide decor and colour, but it can also lighten up the place, which is useful in gloomy hallways and landings.
- ALL tenants in this day and age expect high-speed wireless broadband, so ensure an efficient service is installed that can support at least the maximum amount of tenants that could be house sharing at any one time.
- Have enough keys cut for each tenant; you should provide each tenant with a front door key and their room. You should also ensure you have spare sets for yourself.
Decide whether or not you want to self-manage or use a HMO management service.
Despite what your gut says, HMO management services don’t have to be that expensive. NoAgent, an online agent, offer a HMO management service for £35 per month. Not too shabby.
Ensure all your documents are prepared and that the applicable documents reflect the terms and conditions you wish to impose, including HMO tenancy agreements, guarantor forms, and inventory forms.
It’s best to have your documents prepared from the offset, even before the process of finding tenants begin. If you’re using an agent to manage your HMO, they should have all the paperwork in order.
Install a notice board located in a communal area, and display the following information:
- Emergency contact names and numbers
- Fire escape information and any other relevant health and safety information (e.g. a copy of the gas safety certificate)
- The landlord’s/property manager’s information
- Garbage and recycling collection timetable.
The property should be thoroughly cleaned – preferably before you start taking viewings, but almost certainly before tenants start to move in. Many landlords use professional tenancy cleaning services to get the job done.
You should also schedule a regular cleaning service for the communal areas once the property is habituated. Once a week is usually ample. More is better.
Of course, it’s not a requirement, but from my experience you’d be wise to schedule a regular cleaner and factor the cost into the rent. Leaving the tenants with the responsibility to keep the communal areas clean is usually a regrettable decision. No tenant wants to clean up after a housemate.
A regular cleaning service is not just good for hygiene, but also for keeping peace.
- Check that all appliances, electrics and plumbing is in proper working order.
As a final and farewell tip, I recommend taking high-resolution pictures of your property/rooms while the place is looking dapper. Professional photos of your property should NOT be underestimated when it comes to finding HMO tenants. They are an essential part of marketing.
WAIT! Before you even think about it- let me stop you in your tracks! I urge you not to be seduced by the temptation of reaching for your smartphone to take half-assed dingy snaps, like so many other landlords have done, and consequently hindered the efficiency of their tenant-finding campaign!