As a property owner or manager in London, managing a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) can be challenging. With so many different tenants sharing one property, there are various issues that can arise if proper management strategies are not implemented. In this blog, we will explore some top strategies for effective HMO management to help property owners and managers in London.
- Choose the right tenants: One of the most important aspects of effective HMO management is selecting the right tenants. Ensure that you have a thorough screening process in place to identify the right tenants for your HMO. This includes checking their credit score, employment status, references, and previous rental history.
It is also essential to interview potential tenants to get a sense of their personality and lifestyle to ensure they will be compatible with other tenants in the property. Another very important aspect when choosing tenants is making sure they are responsible and mature, this means being able to manage the living in a shared house as grown up adults.
Very often you will find that tenants living in shared houses are unable to manage simple things like changing light bulbs in rooms, cleaning the kitchen worktops after cooking, recycling the waste correctly, and disposing of the waste with responsibility, and how to communicate with other housemates when any challenges arise.
When having interviews with tenants, we discuss all these aspects and we ask direct questions asking how they would act in all these situations to make sure they are responsible enough to live in shared property. The last thing you want is to receive a call late at night from a tenant complaining about another tenant who has left a dirty plate in the sink.
2. Set up the property correctly: To ensure your HMO is an effective and comfortable living space for tenants, it is essential to set up the property correctly. This includes ensuring that all bedrooms meet minimum size requirements, that there is enough shared living space, and that the kitchen and bathroom facilities are adequate for the number of tenants.
This includes having enough bin space outside for waste, enough kitchen cupboard space, enough space to store food in the fridge freezer for all tenants. Additionally, make sure that the property complies with all relevant health and safety regulations such as fire alarms, heat detectors, fire doors, escape lights, clear fire exit, fire blankets etc.
3. Regular maintenance and cleaning: Regular maintenance and cleaning are crucial for keeping your HMO in good condition and providing a safe and healthy environment for tenants. It is recommended to establish a cleaning schedule, ensuring that communal areas are cleaned regularly, and any necessary repairs are addressed promptly. Also, ensure that fire alarms and other safety features are checked regularly to ensure they are functioning correctly. Having an easy and very straightforward way for tenants to report any maintenance that requires attention is important.
4. Manage tenant relationships: Effective communication and relationship management with tenants are essential for a successful HMO management. Last thing you want is to become a babysitter for your tenants, which is why the first point of choosing the responsible and peasant tenants is really important. Make sure you are easily reachable and responsive to tenant requests and concerns, but make sure tenants understand the boundaries if when is the right time to contact you. One thing I would definitely recommend in creating pleasant communications with your tenants is the book ,,How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.
5. Stay on top of finances. Making sure you have automated ways to check that tenants’ rents have been paid on time is really important. We also have automated reminders of the rent payments on the due date to prevent any late payments. Also monitoring the expenses for each property each month is important to make sure your property is well managed. At Prime Property Care, we also monitor gas and electric usage at the properties. Each month we produce a financial statement for each property and that could help us to identify issues, for example if each month a particular property has a bill of unblocking drains, it might need further attention.
6. Know what’s happening at the property. This means having regular, recorded property inspections to make sure everything is well at the property. This can prevent bigger maintenance jobs and avoid things like illegal overcrowding.
7. Keep on top of the latest compliance regulations. HMO properties are very highly regulated in London and making sure you are aware of all regulations and updates. This includes fire safety, licensing and planning and making sure the property is set up in line with the latest updates.
8. Mandatory property certificate management. Having a reliable system in place to monitor all your property certificates and renewal dates is very important with HMO management. HMO Mandatory certificates are FRA, Gas certificate, EICR, PAT, EPC, Fire Alarm Certificate, Escape Lights servicing certificate. Most certificates are valid for one year and require renewing each year, some are valid longer such as EPC and EICR. Also, providing the certificates to your tenants is as important as renewing them, so make sure you provide it to your tenants each time when renewed and when starting a new tenancy.
9. Hire a professional HMO management company: If managing an HMO is becoming overwhelming or time-consuming, it may be worth hiring a professional HMO management company. A professional company can help you with everything from tenant selection to maintenance and cleaning, ensuring that your HMO is well managed and running efficiently.
In conclusion, effective HMO management requires careful planning, organization, and attention to detail. By following these strategies, property owners and managers in London can ensure that their HMOs provide a comfortable and safe living environment for tenants while also being financially viable and sustainable.