When we consider the changes afoot for the property industry, one thing I’ve seen over the last 16 years owning and managing HMO’s (over 1,000+ rooms over this time period) is that in order to be ahead of the game, it’s important to embrace new changes and ensure that your HMO is fit-for-purpose in today’s world.
Here’s a few things for you to consider to improve your HMO.
1. Easier Transparent Contact
The way we contact each other is changing. As landlords we need to embrace newer methods of technology and offer tenants a multitude of different ways for them to contact us including:
- Messenger apps – facebook/whatsapp
- Internet reporting
- Chat bots
- Own apps
2. Live & Work Spaces
More and more people are living and working in different ways and its important that we recognize this. Tenants are no different to anybody else and we need to embrace this by offering
- Additional facilities such as work-study desks
- Faster Broadband
- More access to local co-working spaces
3. Shorter / Longer Contracts
We live in a mobile society where jobs are often for months if not week rather than years. With this more transient society means that we may need to consider short-term contracts (something that does not really exist right now apart from the somewhat spurious licence agreements) so that tenants can move into a unit for a shorter period of time.
At the same time, tenants have been pressing for longer term contracts which is again something that may be considered in order to allow for more security of tenancy.
This could of course disrupt the internal dynamics of the housemates relations but should be considered as something that will happen and thus we should begin to make compensation for this.
4. Community Integration
One of the accusations made towards HMO tenants is that they do not integrate with communities. Given that we are under pressure to deliver 300,000 homes, I see no other way through which this could happen without the help of HMO’s.
We therefore need to encourage more community interaction and engagement with our HMO tenants including education, liason and getting involved with community projects.
5. Smaller or Large HMO’s
Council-driven regulations seem to be honing down on the ideal 4 and 5 bed HMO’s as standard. This is disappointing given that for me, the sweet spot has always been a 6 bed HMO but more and more councils seem to be preferring the smaller HMO’s as they have ‘less impact on the community’.
All anecdotal of course but then at the other end, we see more and more applications being approved for the monster HMO’s of 10, 15, 18 or 20 bed units which to be fair have to be run in a completely different way to a small HMO with more hotel-type facilities and a higher-level of management.
6. Larger/Smaller Rooms
Recent regulations have come out enforcing 6.51m2 as the smallest allowable room for a HMO tenant to live in. However, is this the smallest room that somebody may CHOOSE to live in?
We’ve had a few rooms in the past measuring 5-5.5m2 which have been eminently suitable for contractors only wishing to stay a few days of the week but under new regulations none of this rooms will be now available.
How many box rooms in the country will now be unavailable as a unit of accommodation? 10,000 – 30,000 – 50,000?
And how does this regulation impact the ‘Rent-a-Room’ scheme where a homeowner can rent out a room? Different rules, same accommodation?
At the same time, a tenant would generally prefer a larger room and this could be possible through new methods of build and technology but only if these are embraced by local planners and councils – modular homes anybody?
7. Home Automation
With the advent of technology being amongst us there are now more opportunities for both tenants and homeowners alike to take advantage of the wonders of home automation.
Imagine being able to ensure the hot water is on when you come home to have a shower or that your heating in your room is at your preferred temperature of 20° or even that you can put on your front porch lights before you get home.
It’s here, it’s here to stay; how can you utilise this to attract more tenants to your HMO?
8. Integrated Entertainment
More and more tenants are demanding the best possible entertainment.
Forget digital channels such as Sky or Virgin; today’s tenant is more likely to watch Netflix or Amazon Films so how do you utilise this growing trend to attract tenants? Group Netflix accounts are here so why not consider extra accounts for your tenants?
9. More Bathrooms / Ensuites
People don’t like sharing bathrooms. People don’t like sharing bathrooms.
Enough said but how do you facilitate letting people have their own ensuites when its possible the Valuation Office may revalue your ‘all ensuite’ HMO as individual units?
Simple; have a mixture of ensuites and shared bathrooms for up to three people.
Want More Tips or Ways To Improve Your HMO Business?
Why not consider grabbing my 'HMO Optimisation Toolkit'; this is a physical product mailed out to you with 50 tips that you can use in your HMO business.
Based on my experience of building a multi-million pound portfolio and managing thousands of units over the last 15 years, you can grab a copy (whilst stocks last) for FREE and pay only £3.95 postage and packaging.
The toolkit is a handy playing card sized product, easy to use and carry and if you implement one tip a week this will keep you busy all year round.