A House in Multiple Occupation, which forms part of the Housing Act and may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Act, is any property that houses two or more ‘families’, who share communal facilities such as bathrooms, gardens, stairs, corridors and kitchens. An example may be a house which is accommodated by several students who share kitchen and bathroom facilities.
Determining who is responsible for cleaning the communal areas in a HMO can, surprisingly, be a bit of a tricky issue.
What does the Regulations say?
Here’s the first section of The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 says about maintaining common parts:
7.—(1) The manager must ensure that all common parts of the HMO are— (a) maintained in good and clean decorative repair; (b) maintained in a safe and working condition; and (c) kept reasonably clear from obstruction.
So, it clearly states it is the manager’s (i.e. the landlord) responsibility to maintain common parts “in good and clean decorative repair”, which is always the case.
It’s important note that the landlord can delegate the task of cleaning to the tenants, but ultimately the landlord remains responsible for ensuring the communal areas are clean.
What type of tenancy agreement do you have?
It’s ultimately always the landlords responsibility for ensuring communal areas are clean, here are a few common scenarios based on the tenancy agreement type in play:
If you are letting/renting each room to individual tenants (i.e. each tenant has a separate AST for their bedroom), then generally speaking, the understanding is that the landlord is responsible for ensuring the communal areas are clean. That may mean hiring a regular cleaning company. However, as said, the landlord can delegate the task to the tenants, but the success of that definitely depends on what type of tenants you have.
If you are letting/renting the entire property to a group of friends and there is one joint tenancy (i.e. all tenants are jointly liable for the property), then usually the tenants are given the responsibility to clean the communal areas, and arranging a fair schedule among themselves.
What’s the ideal scenario and who should you make responsible for cleaning?
Regardless of what type of tenancy agreement you have, use a regular HMO cleaning service, and factor the cost into the rent. It’s what most HMO landlords do, and it’s really the only sensible option