Ten Top Tips for Landlords

Landlords could be set to benefit from increased rental income thanks to rising student numbers combining with a shortfall in suitable property in Scotland but, as tempting as this may sound to potential property investors, there are many legal implications of owning a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) - which is where HMO Scotland can help.

HMO Scotland manages licence applications and removes the potential stress of owning HMO properties, which are regularly subject to change. As well as guiding and advising landlords, HMO Scotland is responsible for monitoring the council approved methods for upgrading HMO properties, so has its finger on the pulse where legislation and the resulting implications for HMO landlords are concerned.

So, here are our Ten Top Tips for stress-free navigation of the HMO landscape:

Ten Top Tips

1) Don't get bogged down in red tape; Obtaining an HMO licence can be a long drawn out process with applications to be submitted, council reports to be deciphered, site notices to be erected and on occasion attendance required at council committees. This process can be time consuming and some landlords are unsure of exactly what is required of them.

2) Know the rules and standards which apply to HMO Licensing; The best sources of information are the council and Scottish Government websites. However information isn't always clear and easy to understand.

3) Don't do too much work or spend unnecessary money; Many landlords have an understanding of the type of modifications required, however they may carry out unnecessary and expensive works e.g. replacing doors in the property with solid core fire doors when this may not be required.

4) Retain the character of your property; Many HMO properties are listed buildings and upgrading works may impact upon their character. It is possible to upgrade doors and fanlights in a sympathetic manner without ruining the integrity of the property. The more attractive an HMO property is the more appealing it will be to prospective tenants and this will be reflected in the rental income.

5) Use a reputable letting agent to manage your property; Approach two or three agents and query them on what they can offer. Ensure they have good experience of letting properties to your target audience as well as a grasp of what's involved in letting an HMO property. Ask for references from their current landlords - and be sure to follow them up.

6) Maintain your property - it may save you money in the long run:
Maintaining your property may mean that you avoid long 'to do' lists from the council officers at their annual inspection. Make sure your tenants know that door closers should not be disconnected and that fire alarm systems are checked regularly. Common issues such as condensation damage and deteriorating windows may end up costing significant amounts if allowed to go unchecked.

7) Be on good terms with your neighbours; Neighbours can object to HMO licence applications and can make life difficult for landlords. If an application attracts an objection it may be necessary to appear before the Council's Regulatory Committee to answer the objections raised. This can be a time consuming and potentially costly process. A quiet word or email to neighbours to let them know who they can speak to in the event of any problems may go a long way. Ultimately unhappy neighbours can jeopardize your licence.

8) Choose reliable tenants for your property to ensure it is looked after and maintained; Good tenants will reduce the chance of objections to the licence. If tenants behave in a socially responsible manner neighbours are less likely to object. Courtesies such as notifying neighbours of impending parties (and maybe even inviting them!) will help put neighbours minds at ease.

9) Don't miss deadlines; Ensure that your renewal application is submitted on time. If not you can expect a phone call from the council's enforcement team possibly threatening legal action and you will certainly have to pay an increased fee. Also the council will give specific timescales for completion of works. If works are not carried out within the stipulated time a licence may be refused.

Make sure all electrical and gas safety certificates are in date as the council will expect these to be valid at all times.

10) Use HMO Scotland: HMO property owners may understandably be cautious of what the legally required HMO upgrading works involve so our aim is to guide landlords through the process and carry out the works to the highest standard and as discreetly as possible - HMO Scotland can help you avoid any of the problems highlighted above.

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