Are you familiar with the feeling of having missed something? It is irking when you can't quite still that mental itch, and put your finger on what it is that you have forgotten.
You're going about your day, ticking jobs off from your ‘to do list’, but something is missing! Order a new washing machine. Done. Arrange a viewing for the property you've got your beady eye on. Bagged a slot. But you keep trying to dredge the murky depths of your brain for that one thing that's evading your tick sheet.
I think we've all been there…it could be as simple as you forgot to put the bins out, but it might be as crucial as not updating your gas safety certificate for one of your HMO properties. Now that is a problem. You're investing in your future with your properties, right? Well, your investment has just become a liability. Failure to comply with the requirements of your HMO license could land you a fixed penalty notice of up to £30,000 or an unlimited fine if you are prosecuted. In fact, a london based lettings company were ordered to pay fines exceeding £100,000 earlier this year for letting an unsafe and unlicensed HMO. Your reputation is key to finding excellent tenants for your properties, and if you're looking for investors to help you grow your portfolio, you need to be squeaky clean. But most importantly, your tenants deserve to live in a safe and well-maintained environment, managed by someone who cares about their well-being.
Staying compliant can feel like a minefield, so to help you navigate your way safely through your compliance renewals we have put together a checklist…you're welcome!
HMO License — Renew every 5 years
You need a separate license for each HMO that you own or manage. These are non-transferable; meaning if you buy a property that is already running as an HMO, you will need to apply for a new license for this property. Mandatory licensing applies to all properties housing 5 or more occupants from more than 1 household. Additional licensing applies to properties housing 3 or more people from more than 1 household, the requirement of which differs between local authorities. Within your HMO license you may need to comply with regulations stipulated by your local authority relating to:
- Room sizes
- Amenities (living space, kitchen space)
- Fire safety (alarms, lighting, escape plan)
Gas Safety Certificate — Renew every 12 months
- You must complete a gas safety check annually and this should always be carried out by a suitably trained Gas Safe registered engineer.
- You can arrange for this check to be carried out 10 months after your last check without affecting your renewal date, so there is no harm in getting it done a little early.
- By law, you are obliged to make your gas safety certificate available to your tenants within 28 days.
- Individual appliances, chimneys, flues and pipework may be subject to their own services; check the manufacturers guidance to ensure you are maintaining them correctly, and keeping your tenants safe.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) — Renew every 10 years
It is a bit wooly as to whether it is a legal obligation for an HMO manager or landlord to provide this document to new tenants, especially if your tenancies are inclusive of bills. In the interest of being thorough, however, it is best practice.
- Your energy performance certificate needs renewing every 10 years if your property has not been substantially modified.
- You only need one EPC for the whole property, so the same one can be provided to each tenant, at the start of their tenancy.
Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) — Renew every 5 years
It is your responsibility to ensure that your property's electrical system is free from faults to reduce the risk of electric shocks or fire. Electrical fires account for the majority of house fires in the UK, so this is pretty important stuff.
- An EICR needs to be completed by a qualified and competent electrician.
- Any remedial work that is identified needs to be completed within 28 days of the initial inspection.
- A copy of the EICR should be made available to existing tenants within 28 days, and to all new tenants before signing the AST.
- If requested by the local authority, your EICR should be provided within 7 days
Fire Risk Assessment — Regularly
Although it is technically part of the HMO license renewal, it is SO important, it is worthy of its own section.
- There is a significantly higher risk of fire in an HMO than a single let property, therefore landlords are required to provide adequate fire precautions and means of escape.
- Fire safety in HMOs is controlled by the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order (2005) stipulates that landlords must complete a fire risk assessment of their property. It does not mandate exactly how often this should be done, only ‘regularly’.
- The LACoRS Housing - Fire Safety Guide can be used to assess what precautions are reasonably required within your property.
- There is no standardised legislation of how often a fire alarm system should be checked. Some councils suggest weekly, others suggest monthly. It's a good idea to delegate this to a single person to ensure it is done regularly, either maintenance/cleaning staff or a trustworthy tenant.
- Many councils will require annual evidence of a fire alarm system check, undertaken by a qualified electrician.
With over 400 pieces of legislation pertaining to the safe management of HMOs, there is a lot to navigate. Don't panic. Just get organised.
COHOs HMO management system offers a compliance feature that works with you. It provides you with the clarification you need to stay on top of your compliance renewals, simply and effectively. All your property compliance needs, all in one place.