HMOs: What Does the Future Hold?

 

Many of you will be thinking HMOs, what’s interesting about student accommodation? Today’s blog will take a look at why HMOs are becoming more popular in the market place, and why property investors maybe adding them to their portfolios.

 

For those of you who may not know, HMO stands for House of Multiple Occupancy (or Occupation) and is a term used to describe when three or more unrelated individuals live together in a home with shared facilities such as kitchen, living space and sometimes bathrooms. They’re most commonly used for students, and often get bad reputations for being lower quality accommodation and troublesome for neighbours due to student antics. Each local Council will have policies relating to the regulation of HMOs within neighbourhoods, and for your property to be used as an HMO, you will need to apply for a license from your local Council and ensure particular safety standards are met. Because of the specific requirements needed to set up an HMO, the setup cost can be far higher than a traditional single let.

 

So, why would you want to set up an HMO? 

 

Typically properties that are let out to multiple occupants tend to attract a higher rent than if the property was let out to a couple or a family (a single let). Here’s an example: a property may rent out for say £800 per month as a three-bedroom family home, but you might be able to charge say £500 per room (one tenant per room) totalling £1,500 per month. As you can see, you almost double the rent you collect each month. 

 

Another advantage of using a property as an HMO over a single-let is minimising risk. The risk to your income comes from void periods. With a standard single let property when a tenant moves out, you risk of the property sitting empty and therefore not bringing in any income. On the flip side, when you own a property with multiple occupants, even if one tenant moves out and you struggle to replace them, you’ll still receive rent from the remaining tenants. Risk also comes into play with non-payment of rent. If you rent your property to one tenant (whether it’s to an individual, a family or a couple) and they stop paying rent for whatever reason, you lose the full rental amount. On the flip side, if one of your HMO tenants stops paying rent, you only lose a smaller portion of your total rent. Both reducing void periods and risk of non-payment ultimately reduce the risk to your income as a landlord.

 

HMO’s are an attractive way for landlords to make profits from their properties, but is now a good time to look at setting up new HMOs?

 

The answer to this is yes. We’ve all read about the shortage of housing in the UK, and HMOs can help relieve a small amount of this burden. HMOs effectively maximise the living space in rental properties, therefore helping with some of the need for more housing, particularly in cities. HMOs are becoming more popular with demographics other than students, such as young professionals or individuals on lower incomes. In many cities, renting an apartment alone or as a flatshare with one other person is still way beyond what the average young professional can afford. With the average age of first-time buyers creeping up in the UK, HMOs can be an affordable place for professionals to live while saving for a deposit for their first home. 

 

If you decide to consider setting up an HMO for professionals, the best place to start is looking at competition in your local area. HMOs that cater to young professionals are usually of an excellent standard, often with higher spec kitchens and luxurious bathrooms (or possibly even all en-suite rooms). There’s definitely a market for this sort of living, so it’s perhaps a great time to look into HMOs in your local area. Please ensure you check with your local Council for restrictions and regulations in your specific neighbourhood before you get going.

 

There are some negatives to owning properties as HMOs. I won’t go into the full details, but some of the issues can include: higher turnover of occupants, larger management fees if you use a letting agent to manage the property, more wear and tear on the property, bigger initial set up costs and cost to furnish (and renew/replace furniture) the property. Obtaining a license for an HMO from your local Council also comes at a price.

 

The property market is always changing, but we think there are lots of interesting and exciting things to come. If you’re interested in getting into property but don’t have the time, knowledge or know-how, click the button below to book a call with me.