Is student accommodation an HMO?

For many students, it makes sense to live in shared housing.

If someone lives alone, they pay extra money for renting, particularly in big cities.

A shared house, or a flat, offers a more relaxed, independent way of living. In spite of the fact that private halls are increasingly popular with students, the affordability factor remains a top priority. In the past couple of years, there has been an increase of properties at the low and high ends of the market alike. Many of these properties are houses in multiple occupation.

Most of private rented accommodation are HMOs

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a residential property that is provided for the common use of five or more people, who form separate households. They may lack or share basic amenities. If the building is at least three storeys high, it’s considered a large HMO. A mandatory license from the local council is necessary for a large HMO. As a reminder, the HMO licensing regime was introduced by the Housing Act 2004, with the aim to raise the standard for accommodation. As of October 2018, the mandatory licensing regulations have been updated by the government.

Are there any exceptions to the rule?

The vast majority of university halls don’t count as HMOs. The reason for this is that they are controlled and managed by an educational establishment, which demonstrates ongoing commitment to best practices. Equally, properties that are managed by local authorities and social housing landlords are exempted from the definition of an HMO. Examples include housing associations. Most housing associations receive grants and subsidies to provide lower rent.

The legal responsibilities of an HMO landlord

As a rule, landlords convert properties into houses in multiple occupation so that they can rent out each room, rather than the whole house. The most obvious advantage is access to multiple tenants, which translates into multiple rent checks. Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that their rental property is safe before a tenancy begins. There are several mandatory obligations that an HMO landlord must abide by, such as:

  • Fire and general safety
  • Managing water supply and drainage
  • Gas and electricity checks
  • Cleaning the communal areas
  • Waste disposal
  • Maintaining living accommodation

Getting the arrangements in place is the best course of action for all landlords. If there is any confusion, the landlord should reach out to the local council and discuss HMO regulations. Needless to say, they’ll be able to provide tailored advice.

Walton Robinson
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