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Warning to government - reform agenda is WRONG for HMOs!

A network of professional landlords is warning the government that its reform agenda for the private rental sector is plain wrong for Homes in Multiple Occupation.

Platinum Property Partners says some measures in the government’s Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper will have a detrimental impact on shared households, potentially deterring HMO landlord investment and denting supply further. 

Although the Bill specifically exempts purpose-built student accommodation, there is no clear mention of excluding professional or student HMOs. 


For professional HMOs, where three or more unconnected people rent individual rooms and share communal spaces, these proposals make no sense according to PPP managing director Emma Hayes.

“A few of the key areas of the proposal are simply unfit for HMO landlords and tenants and will cause serious problems to arise if exemptions or amendments are not made” she says.

“We’re all for a fairer private rented sector, where tenants can be assured that their accommodation will be of a certain quality and that they won’t be evicted for speaking up, but these measures will not work in a shared living environment.”

The first point that PPP argues is that removing the ability to serve a Section 21 could cause tenant distress and discomfort, particularly in instances where one tenant’s behaviour is not classed as ‘anti-social’ but can be intimidating and offending to the majority of the household.

Hayes explains: “PPP landlords make every effort to create a harmonious household where tenants are a good cultural fit for each other, but friction does arise.

“There has been one instance, for example, where a male tenant made unwanted advances to a female tenant who is physically smaller. She was frightened and told him to stop but he persisted and went on to steal her underwear from the washing line. Under the proposed changes, even if there are grounds for a fault-based eviction, there are two major problems.

“First, the offended tenant has to give evidence in court against the offender and second, they have to continue to live under the same roof as the offender, perhaps for six to 12 months whilst the case is pending. This is likely to cause the vulnerable tenant to leave, facing an uncertain future in a new house.”

When it comes to introducing periodic tenancies, this not only removes any security of medium to long-term income for landlords in any buy to let property, but will discourage HMO landlords in particular to cater for tenant requests, Hayes insists.  

Finally, PPP claims that there’s no way HMO landlords could reasonably consent to tenants having pets in shared houses. 

As well as dramatically reducing the appeal of a property to many tenants, some of whom may have phobias or allergies, it’s also unfair to the animals themselves. 

More importantly, the Renters Reform Bill does not clarify a crucial point.

“The proposals state that landlords may ask tenants to take out pet insurance and that this will not be a prohibited payment under the Tenant Fees Act 2019” notes Hayes. 

“However, pet insurance only covers the health of the animal, so what the paper should actually state is pet liability insurance that may, or may not, cover wear and tear caused by pets. For HMO landlords, having to scrutinize each insurance policy per tenant and then taking it in good faith that they will recoup costs that would be paid directly to the policy holder is not feasible.”

She concludes: “Parliamentarians should realise that HMOs are different from single dwelling lets and that granting one tenant rights and taking away a valuable management tool from landlords is not risk free. The interests of other housemates should be balanced. Otherwise, in sensitive situations, the strong will oppress the weak and landlords will be almost powerless to help.”


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