Top 5 Laws on Disrepair of HMOs2

1. Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985

This law sets out the legal obligations HMO landlords have towards residents as regards keeping the property in repair. They can’t be excluded by landlords (for example by a clause in their tenancy agreement) unless the HMO owner has obtained a court order first.

If the landlord is not complying and the HMO falls into disrepair, tenants can go to the country court to get an injunction ordering their landlord to do the relevant works to bring the house back into proper repair and the order for a financial refund.

Although tenants should be careful – sometimes it may be inadvisable if the landlord decides to ‘retaliate’ by bringing eviction proceedings under section21.

Read more about section 11.

2. Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004

This law sets out a procedure for Local Authority Environmental Health Officers to follow when inspecting an HMO property for fitness, disrepair and health and safety standards.

If the inspection finds any ‘category one hazards’ they must serve an improvement order, which if the HMO landlord fails to comply by bringing the property back into repair, can be enforced via the Magistrates Court.

If the improvement notice is not actioned, this may lead the HMO landlord to an expensive penalty charge notice (which can be for up to £30,000) and Local Authorities or tenants may be entitled to bring a claim at the First Tier Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order.

Under new rules introduced in the Deregulation Act 2015, HMO landlords cannot use section 21 within 6 months of service of an improvement notice and previous section 21 notices will be retrospectively rendered invalid if they were served after their residents complained about one or more issues covered in the improvement notice.

Read more about the Housing Act 2004.

HMO Property Insurance

HMO Property Insurance

If your property is deemed an HMO, the terms of your insurance policy will be different from that of a single property, and so you will need a dedicated specific HMO insurance product to make sure you are fully covered… read more

3. The Gas Safety Regulations 1998

These regulations require all HMO landlords renting their properties with gas appliances to have them inspected once a year by an installer registered with the Gas Safe Register and provide a certificate to the tenants. The certificate must be shown to tenants before they move in and for all the subsequent checks.

Any repair work identified by the inspection must be done by the HMO landlord at his expense.

Also now landlords need to have served a gas safety certificate on residents before they move in as a condition of being able to use section 21.  A recent case shows that HMO landlords may be forbidden from using section 21 altogether if this is not done.

You can see the regulations here and the HSE has a useful website here.

4. The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation  Regulations 2006 (England).

These regulations do not apply to other property types but they will apply to ALL HMOs, not just those that need to be licensed.  There are probably many more HMO properties than most landlords realise. The regulations mainly cover various health and safety issues and require the house in multiple occupation to be in good condition.

The regulations are enforced by Local Authorities as described for item 2 above by way of penalty charge notice or prosecution in the Magistrates and Rent Repayment Orders can be applied for by Local Authorities or residents.

Read more about the regulations

5.  Energy Efficiency Regulations 2015. (England and Wales) 

These regulations provide for all new rented properties from 1 April 2018 to have a minimum energy performance rating of at least E or higher.

From 1 April 2020, this will apply to ALL rented properties, however long the tenancy has been in existence.

Enforcement will be by Local Authorities usually via Trading Standards or by Environmental Health Officers.

Read more about the regulations.

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