Moving to student accommodation
STUDENTS often live in shared houses or flats. Many of these properties are houses in multiple occupation (HMO).
If you live in an HMO, your landlord has extra legal responsibilities and may need a licence for the property.
There is a legal definition setting out what an HMO is. However, in general terms, it is a building where more than one household lives and shares facilities.
Students living in the following types of accommodation are likely to be living in HMOs:
A house or flat which is let to three or more people who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
A house converted into bedsits, which is let to three or more people who form two or more households.
For a property to be an HMO, it has to be used only or mainly as residential accommodation. It also has to be the occupiers’ only or main home, but this includes any students undertaking a fulltime course of further or higher education.
Other buildings, such as halls of residence, are usually excepted from the definition of an HMO.
Properties that are managed by local authorities and other social housing landlords do not count as HMOs.
If you live in an HMO your landlord has to meet extra responsibilities which are in addition to their repair responsibilities. These are on:
The provision of properly working smoke and/or heat detectors with alarms and a safe means of escape in case of fire
Water supply and drainage – cannot be unreasonably interrupted and must be kept clean and in good repair
Gas and electricity appliances and installations must be safe, which includes arranging an annual gas safety check and having electrical installations checked at least every five years
Communal areas such as staircases, halls, corridors and entrances, must be kept in good decorative repair, clean and reasonably free from obstructions
There must be enough bins for rubbish and adequate means of disposing of rubbish
The living accommodation and any furniture supplied must be clean and in good repair.
If the landlord isn’t meeting these standards you could try and speak to them about it.
If they don’t do anything, you could contact the local authority. It can carry out an inspection and can take enforcement action if the property:
Poses a risk to your health and safety
Is poorly managed Is unsuitable for the number of people who live there
Should be licensed but is not.
Before deciding what to do you should check what type of tenancy you have.
Many students in private rented accommodation have assured shorthold tenancies and as long as your landlord follows the proper legal process, you can be evicted quite easily.
You need to consider that enforcing your rights may antagonise your landlord and could put you at risk of eviction.
You can get help, information and advice from your local Citizens Advice or visit www. citizensadvicewokingham. org.uk or contact Citizens Advice Wokingham at
Second Floor, Waterford House, Erfstadt Court, Wokingham RG40 2YF. Tel: 0300 330 1189. email: public@ citizensadvicewokingham. org.uk