The title of this blog post may be a bit of a misnomer. That's because it's not the annual testing of landlords, of course, but rather the tests landlords of HMOs should be carrying out on an annual basis to ensure their properties are habitable for tenants. Indeed some of these tests are statutory and if not carried out could lead to a fine and removal of the HMO licence. Others may be non-mandatory but they’re still advisable - for your own peace of mind as well as that of the tenants.
Here at Property Go To Girl something we get asked a lot by prospective landlords and those interested in the buy to let market (whether for an HMO in Oxford or a straightforward one/two bedroom let) is whether it makes more sense to furnish a flat or leave it in all its naked glory with just bare wells and floorboards so that the tenant can put their own mark/s on it.
Considering buy-to-let mortgages can be quite a bit more expensive than your typical residential mortgage it’s tempting, when renting out your former home, not to tell your mortgage company what you’re about to do and just stick with the cheaper percentage interest instead.
But it’s not wise.
The short answer to the question “Do I need an agent to rent out my property?” is “No.” There is no legal requirement to advertise or supervise the renting of your HMO in Oxford via a third person. But often it’s so much easier to do so. That’s because there is a lot more to think about when it comes to being a landlord than simply the legal implications.
As a landlord with an HMO the topic of whether or not you should rent your rooms to tenants on housing benefit will undoubtedly rear its ugly head at some point. Why ugly? Well, it’s always a sore point. No-one wants to be deliberately discriminatory – especially to those who are may be a bit down on their luck. But, on the other hand, this is business and you need to make sure you’re getting the rent on a regular basis.
That’s not to say you won’t with housing benefit tenants but the bottom line is that when tenants are on benefit and in receipt of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) there’s obviously not a lot of money to go round. And this is when the potential for unpaid rent is most likely to arise.
Unlike when it comes to other ‘normal’ buy to let properties, owners of HMOs aren’t tempted to decorate them as if they were their own home. That’s because just the sheer size of an HMO (three to four bedrooms minimum as a rule) and the fact it doesn’t resemble a family home because there’s often no shared sitting room, reminds landlords that this is indeed a business opportunity and should be regarded as such.
That means buying furniture which is decent enough so that it’s not going to collapse the first time anyone over 14 stone perches on it, but that’s not so designer-ish that you’re going to be in tears when, the first time you round come to collect the rent, there’s a huge coffee stain on the pretty pink fabric cushions (in the event your HMO does have a sitting room).
I'm Jacquie the Property Go-To Girl. I am passionate about property. I love to help people make the most out of their property investments!