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How to convert a property in to a HMO.

A house in multiple occupation also known as an HMO is a property which is rented by three or more tenants who aren’t part of the same household (a family). Many landlords let HMOs as they consider them a better way to run a rental portfolio.

HMOs require an HMO licence. If your property’s let to five or more tenants from more than one household, is at least three storeys high and the tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities, then you'll definitely need a licence. (These rules are set to change in OCTOBER 2018)

If some, but not all, of these criteria apply, then you may still need a licence and it's wise to check with your local authority. HMO licences are valid for five years at a time and you'll require a separate licence for each HMO you’re running. You may also wish to check whether you require planning permission.

In order to comply, you'll need to make sure that a valid gas safety certificate is sent to the council each year, while smoke alarms need to be installed and safety certificates for electrical appliances must be available on request. Different authorities may add additional criteria, so there may be other things you need to consider in order to comply.

Depending on how much work needs to be done to the property to convert it, you may also need planning permission to be able to make certain changes. When carrying out these sorts of activities, it's always wise to make sure you keep a record of all correspondence, applications and approvals to ensure you’re covered in the future.

Within five years of converting to an HMO, all rental properties will be visited by the council, who’ll carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System risk assessment. If any unacceptable risks are found during the assessment, they must be addressed. With this in mind, you need to make sure your HMO is habitable and provides enough space for tenants to live comfortably.

It's likely you’ll be converting the use of some rooms. For example, spare rooms may be converted to additional bathrooms and reception rooms to additional bedrooms.

You may also need to move or construct walls in order to alter room sizes - these are all aspects you'll need to plan carefully before undertaking. And, of course, it's advisable to use a professional when working on the more significant parts of the conversion.

Some landlords convert garages in order to create additional space. These often require planning permission, so you'll need to check with your local authority.

In many cases, traditional Victorian terraced houses could be ideal for HMO conversion, due to their spaciousness and the size of the reception rooms. For example, in a three-bedroom terraced house a landlord could convert one reception room and the loft into bedrooms to turn it into a five-bedroom HMO.

Converting reception rooms is often essential, but not always the right decision. In the perfect scenario, the property will have two reception rooms - one of which can be converted, leaving the other room to remain as a dining or living space.

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