How Easy is it to Convert a House to a HMO

99% of the time you will look to convert an existing property into a HMO. There are two main ways you’d do this:

  1. Keeping the existing footprint of the house the same, no structural work, just making it fire safe
  2. Extending the house to make more bedrooms, a larger kitchen, loft conversion, etc

Whichever route you take, you are likely to be retro-fitting to make your property fire safe and compliant with the regulations to get sign-off from your council for use as a HMO.

The Fundamentals

Before you start doing anything, the key thing is to understand the rules and regulations. Here are some key points to do:

  1. Speak to your local council who handle HMOs. Usually there is a person/people/department who handle HMOs because it’s a lot of specialist knowledge required and rules to comply with. They will tell you a lot of information and help you get everything ready to make sure you are compliant
  2. Understand the regulations. Although there are some nationwide guidelines, every council has their own requirements so you should get to know exactly what they are. They usually have a guide online which you can download and familiarise yourself with. Important things to note are bedroom sizes, communal living area space requirements and amenity standards like how many sinks and cookers you need
  3. What is the demand like? Check on Spare Room to see what other rooms are available in your area, how much they are advertised for and what they look like. This will give you guide on how much to expect per room.

Smart Home Heating System

Modern Homes Demand Smart Technology

Having each room rented out individually completely changes how the house is used. There are two key things you need to consider before you start work on your conversion to a HMO.

1) How will you handle ventilation

With more people, comes more moisture, more washing, etc. Also, because all of your bedroom doors will be firmly closed and sealed most of the time, no airflow goes around the house. You also have people living in their rooms. Eating, drinking, working, etc. All of this adds up to lots of moisture and a lack of ventilation and therefore a high chance of mould.

We have experienced this in quite a few places now. We have had environmental health look at it and confirm that it is down to the way that the tenants are living in the property.

The current thinking in terms of what to do is get a Positive Input Ventilation system (PIV) installed. I’ll update this again in the near future once we have installed one to see how it all works. If good, we will be rolling them out across the existing portfolio.

2) What controls will you have for heating and hot water

In all of our HMOs, we use something called Inspire Home Automation for controlling the heating – we have combi boilers in all of our HMOs. We don’t have any large, all en-suite properties so haven’t had the need for any kind of larger scale unvented hot water cylinder system but I’m sure Inspire will work just as well on those, too.

Here are the things to make sure you have considered:

  • The heating and hot water system you have

  • How you are going to ensure an adequate level of ventilation

  • What ways can tenants dry their clothes without producing too much internal moisture

  • What control do the tenants have over the heating in the house

This Trend is Set to Continue

More and more attention is being given to mould and damp issues in people’s homes. As energy costs rise, and we look to seal every vent in the house, it’s important to have a way for moisture to be removed.

And let’s not forget that older homes may require more work because there are parts of the structure which are failing, in disrepair or require upgrading.

You must take preventative steps to avoid issues with mould, damp and dangerous living conditions for the tenants.

Just throwing in a load of insulation might not be the answer to the problems because this could cause more moisture to get trapped inside of the building, leading to mould and other related issues.

More and more focus is going to be placed on these issues over the coming years, no doubt with some kind of legislation to combat the issues we are seeing.

My guess is that at some point there will be the need for a damp/mould/ventilation survey to be completed on the building just like an EPC.