HMO standards and regulations
There are regulations, fire safety, amenity and energy standards that owners of HMOs must comply with.
- Amenity standards
- Fire safety
- Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations
All managers and owners of HMOs are bound by The Management of House in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006 No. 372).
The regulations impose duties on a person managing a HMO in respect of:
- Providing information to occupiers
- Taking safety measures, including fire safety measures
- Maintaining the water supply and drainage
- Supplying and maintaining gas and electricity, including having it regularly inspected
- Maintaining common parts (defined in regulation 7(6)), fixtures, fittings and appliances
- Maintaining living accommodation
- Providing waste disposal facilities
The regulations also impose duties on occupiers of a HMO for the purpose of ensuring that the person managing it can effectively carry out the duties imposed on them by these regulations.
HMO landlords must comply with Minimum Amenity Standards.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places duties on the person having control of a HMO to have fire precautions in place, to make sure the property is safe and to carry out fire risk assessments.
Landlords should make sure there are appropriate means of escape and fire detection systems according to the type of property and the way it is used. For example, a house containing individual bedsits each with cooking facilities will require a much higher level of protection than a shared house with a single kitchen.
All HMOs are required to meet minimum fire safety standards (LACORS), and the amenity standards outlined in the previous section. These standards are higher than for a home occupied by a single family. This is because the risk of fire and the amenities required increase when a home is occupied by a number of sharers who are not living as one family. All private rented properties must be provided with a smoke alarm on each floor to detect a fire - more information is available in the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations.
Landlords must also:
- Make sure the house is suitable for the number of occupants in terms of size and facilities
- Ensure the manager of the house is considered to be a ‘fit and proper’, for example has no criminal record, has not breached housing laws or codes of practice
- Arrange an Annual Gas Safety check by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and obtain an updated gas safety certificate every year.
- Arrange an electrical safety check by a qualified electrician at least every five years and obtain an updated Periodic Electrical Installation Condition Report - you can read more about electrical safety standards in the private rented sector
- Install and maintain smoke alarms on each floor and if necessary in each room (a heat detector in a kitchen)
- Obtain safety certificates for all portable electrical appliances
- Provide sufficient refuse bins accessible to tenants, and written information to all tenants about the proper storage of household waste and recycling material and collection arrangements
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010) set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery.
If you supply furniture or furnishings with the let, you should ensure that they meet the fire resistance requirements – sometimes known as the ‘match test’ – in the regulations.
The regulations apply if it is considered that the landlord is acting in the course of a business in letting the property. The regulations set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture such as sofas and mattresses.
All new and second-hand furniture provided in accommodation under a new let, or replacement furniture in existing let accommodation, must meet the fire resistance requirements unless it was made before 1950.
Most furniture will have a manufacturer’s label on it saying that it meets the requirements.
The MEES Regulations set a minimum energy efficiency level for domestic private rented properties. Landlords cannot let or continue to let properties covered by the MEES Regulations if they have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below E, unless they have a valid exemption in place.
It is unlawful for a landlord or agent to rent out a domestic property with an EPC rating of F or G, unless they have a valid exemption in place.
- If you are currently planning to let a property with an EPC rating of F or G, you need to improve the property’s rating to E, or register an exemption, before you enter into a new tenancy
- If you are currently letting a property with an EPC rating of F or G, and you haven’t already taken action, you must improve the property’s rating to E immediately, or register an exemption. We may impose a financial penalty for non compliance with the regulations
Find an Energy Performance Certificate
Visit GOV.UK to find an Energy Performance Certificate for a property.
The GOV.UK website provides advice for HMO landlords.