There are two ways of dealing with groups of tenants in your tenancy agreement:
- Getting all the tenants to sign one tenancy agreement as joint tenants, and
- Giving each individual tenant their own tenancy agreement for their own room and shared use of the common parts of the property.
(Both types of agreement are available to Landlord Law members.)
If you use the first option – how does this affect the HMO Management Regulations?
What are the HMO Management Regulations?
These are rules (which were discussed here) which all HMO landlords need to comply with.
But, some landlords and agents ask, do they apply to properties let under joint tenancies which are an HMO? (Note by the way that if you are letting to a couple or family members sharing – this is not an HMO. This article only applies to HMO lets.)
Here it is arguable that there are no common parts – the property is let as a whole to all the tenants. The landlord and his agent do not have access to, for example, the living room or kitchen, without the tenants’ agreement and so cannot go round and do regular inspections. Indeed this could be considered harassment.
So how can these rules apply to properties let to joint tenants?
The answer is that the management regulations apply to ALL HMO properties, without exception. You cannot avoid the applicability of the rules by the type of paperwork you use.
Also, for the record, the rules are not dependant upon the property needing an HMO license. They apply to all HMOs, whether they need a license or not.
It is true that with a property let to joint tenants there are no ‘common parts’ inside the property in the same way that there are in a property let as rooms in a shared house.
This does not mean though that there are never any common parts at all. For example with flats, there will be hallways, corridors and stairs.
Often the landlord will not be responsible for the maintenance of these areas, it will be down to the freeholder. However if he is, then these will fall within the regulations.
Bear in mind also that the management regulations are not just about common parts. There are other rules which will apply, for example –
- Having an electrical installation check done every five years
- Ensuring fire safety
- Making arrangements for collection of rubbish, and of course
- Having a notice in the property with the HMO Managers contact details.
Of course it may be less easy for landlords and agents to gain access for inspection purposes with properties let under joint tenancies. However this does not release the landlord/agent from the obligation to at least try to comply with their obligations.
So, if you are an HMO manager, you will need to request regular access for inspections and keep a detailed record, and a record of any refusals on the part of the tenants to allow access.
Then if you are approached by the Local Authority alleging that you are in breach of the rules, you will be able to produce these records in your defence.
With thanks to David Smith for his help with this post.