What is an HMO?

An HMO is a House in Multiple Occupation. An HMO, as defined by the government (https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/houses-in-multiple-occupation) is when at least 3 tenants live in one house, forming more than 1 household and they share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants.

HMO Requirements

For people thinking of investing in property, converting a single house into an HMO can be a great way to get more from your investment. Some existing landlords with buy-to-let properties may convert their houses into HMOs. This means that instead of one single rent, excluding bills collected from the tenant of the Buy to Let property, tenants will pay rent per room, usually including bills for a room in a shared house. 

To ensure that landlords are offering quality places to live for their tenants, there are some requirements that must be adhered to, and these are important when designing and costing your HMO renovation. You must check with your local council, but some of the additional requirements are:

  • Fire risk assessments to ensure that the tenants are safe in the event of a fire. 

  • Space standards to ensure that bedrooms and shared areas meet the minimum requirement.

  • Shared facilities, to ensure that all tenants have adequate space to store and prepare food. 

  • As well as the safety certificates that are necessary for all investment properties such as Gas and Electric. 

  • You may require an HMO licence depending on the size of your property, and/or Planning Permission depending on size/renovation work /location.  

This is not an exhaustive list, however it is a good starting point, before you start the design work. 

HMO Development

Many property investors are looking to save money where they can, which is obviously wise when renovating. You are aiming to stick to a budget to ensure that you can fund the project and retain enough profit to continue to maintain the property and look after tenants. It is important to understand the full renovation costs, including the costs of consultants to help you meet your statutory requirements along the way. Once you have a full list of your requirements, you can work through the details of renovation costs. 

It is important to employ the right professionals for your renovation. For an HMO renovation you may need the following consultants: 

  1. An HMO Architect – An architect will help you to get the best possible layout for your property and maximise your return on investment. They will produce all the drawn information to enable you to get fixed prices from trades and these drawings will be part of your contract with your renovation team – this means that everybody working on your project is on the same page (the last thing you want are people going off-piste with their own ideas… this can lead to confusion and lots of extra £££!). They can help you to secure Planning Permission if required, they will secure Building Regulations approval and they will liaise with the other members of your team (your trades, structural engineers, building inspector etc.), particularly with terraced houses, which are often converted to HMO’s there may be a need for Party Wall notices. Your Architect will help to advise on this to help avoid any costly disputes. 
  2. An HMO Specialist and/or a Planning Consultant – Depending on the complexity of the development, you may wish to engage the help of an HMO specialist to advise and assist with licencing etc. Some can also help with Fire Risk Assessments. A Planning Consultant may be able to assist with any particularly contentious planning applications. 
  3. A Structural Engineer – Depending on the level of work required, you may need a Structural Engineer as part of your team.
  4. An Interior Designer – The quality of co-living has really stepped up in recent years, and many HMO landlords are offering beautifully designed places to live. The stats don’t lie and the demand for these high-end rooms is high – as is the rental income! So, if you’re looking to create a long-term investment, don’t forget to budget for an Interior Designer to help you with your renovation. 

You may add more consultants to this list depending on the scale and location of your renovation, however, this is a good starting point in terms of budgeting. 

Remember, time is money when you are choosing professionals to work with. Make sure they are qualified and knowledgeable and that they have good communication. You need your project to run as smoothly as possible for the best result at the end.  

At V&L Architects, we have worked with many investors to help them achieve great results on their HMO renovations, from designing to maximise the potential of the building to Planning – getting you through the hoops! And then through the construction information and Building Regulations – making sure that your HMO is compliant, well-constructed, fully costed and safe. 

Are you looking to convert a property into an HMO? Book a free consultation with our experienced architects to find out how we can help.