HMO Registrations fall in Thurrock in 2023, but demand could rise soon

Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) are the often-overlooked saviour of our housing system. These space-efficient homes allow for multiple households or individuals to live in one property.

Instead of having individual flats with their own communal areas and cooking facilities, HMOs offer tenants the chance to share communal areas with other occupants of the property, while still giving them their own private space. Thurrock

While these properties might seem like a vital part of our community, especially in these challenging times, registration numbers for HMOs from Thurrock Council show that only 11 new licences were issued between January and September 12th 2023. During the same period in 2022, 22 licences were issued.

That means that half as many new HMOs were created this year, which could have a devastating effect on the local community. HMOs only need to be licensed when they house 5 or more people, and some smaller properties can get away without one. As such, there is a chance that some new properties were created during this time that were smaller, but the lack of larger HMOs is still an issue, as we explain in this article.

Why Does Thurrock Need HMOs?

Like most of the UK, Thurrock is in dire need of affordable housing, especially in these tough economic times. Many private tenants are feeling the pinch, and as the council raises social housing rents by 7%, some individuals and families might be seeking cheaper alternatives.

HMOs are known to be more affordable than renting an entire property, especially as many of them offer options for tenants to pay one set fee to cover all their bills, including council tax and electricity. By combining their rent and bills into one set monthly payment, tenants can budget more easily and potentially save money in the long run.

Many HMO landlords allow for short-term rentals, which makes these properties particularly useful for young professionals and students who might only need to be in the area for a short time. Most HMOs don’t allow pets, and many don’t allow children, but some will allow couples. The majority of these properties are best for single individuals, making them unsuitable for families and those with dependants, but for those in a particular situation, they can be a great way to save money and find somewhere safe to live.

What Does It Take To Turn A Single Family Home Into An HMO?

While some HMOs are purpose-built from scratch, many are single family homes or even small blocks of flats that are adapted to fit in more tenants. To turn an ordinary property into an HMO, a property owner will need to get a licence if housing more than 5 occupants. There are other reasons why a landlord might need a licence for their HMO, so they will need to check with their local authority.

The property itself will need to be adapted significantly, as most family homes aren’t built to hold multiple households. Each bedroom will need to be fitted with a fire door and smoke detector, as each room is technically an individual dwelling.

Some HMO landlords choose to repurpose large communal rooms, such as living rooms, into bedrooms, to make the most of the property and welcome more tenants. In this case, changes such as rewiring to add extra sockets might be required. Landlords may also have to move major appliances, such as boilers, to reposition the property and make the most from the space. In this case, they may need an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). Landlords can learn the answers to important questions, like when do I need an EICR and how much does an EICR cost from Hexo Electrical Testing. They specialise in EICRs for landlords and have worked on many HMO projects, so they can answer all relevant questions and ensure that landlords are fully compliant with all relevant health and safety legislation when creating an HMO.

Once the property has been adapted for use as an HMO, landlords will need to arrange for someone to act as a tenant liaison and effectively manage the property for them. Having multiple tenants in one building requires a lot of communication and management, more so than a traditional rental property, so landlords might want to consider outsourcing this often tedious and challenging task.

Areas such as communal spaces will also need to be cleaned and inspected regularly, as will individual bedrooms, as each tenant is their own separate household. They will need to be checked on regularly, especially if they are long-term tenants.

In Summary

The news that HMO licence registration has halved since this time last year is a blow for Thurrock residents and employers looking to bring seasonal or short-term workers into the area. Thankfully, things could turn around in the future, as plans have been submitted for a new HMO in Tilbury. While this is only one property, it’s safe to say that current economic conditions could drive more landlords to explore HMOs moving forward.

The reason for this that because more and more landlords are finding themselves strapped for cash thanks to rising mortgage rates and tenants are struggling to deal with skyrocketing rents, it’s fair to expect that some inventive property owners might consider turning a single home into an HMO to make more cash and welcome a wider range of tenants to their property. It will take time, but hopefully, things will change, as HMOs offer a valuable housing opportunity for many tenants, both in Thurrock and across the UK.

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