When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

HMO management standards

Advice for landlords in Northern Ireland

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can call Landlord Advice on 028 9024 5640 and choose option 5. 

The council will only grant a HMO licence if it is satisfied that the management arrangements for the property are satisfactory.

As well as meeting the fit and proper person test, owners and managing agents are subject to a Code of Practice. Breaching this code could lead to losing your licence.

What are satisfactory management arrangements?

The council must consider

  • if any person involved in managing the HMO is sufficiently competent;
  • if any person who will be involved in managing the HMO, but is not named on the licence, is a fit and proper person;
  • whether the management and financial structures in place are appropriate.

You should make sure that your name and details are recorded accurately on the landlord register, as the council is likely to check that you are properly registered.

You may also want to attend training on HMO issues and other relevant housing training, in order to show your competence. 

Code of Practice for HMOs

You must look after and manage the property in accordance with a code of practice. The code of practice makes you, or your HMO manager, responsible for a number of different areas.

Acommodation standards

The HMO manager must make sure that

Fire safety and carbon monoxide

The HMO manager must make sure that

  • fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment is provided in line with the Fire Safety Guidance for HMOs;
  • any equipment provided is in good working order at the start and throughout the tenancy;
  • notices indicating fire escape routes are displayed so they are clearly visible to the residents of the HMO;
  • there is a carbon monoxide alarm in any room which contains a fuel burning combustion appliance;
  • there is a continuous supply of electricity to the fire detection systems – it is not acceptable for these to be connected to a prepay meter circuit.

Interior, exterior and common parts

The HMO manager must make sure that

  • a new occupant’s room, and any furniture provided, is clean at the start of the tenancy;
  • the internal structure of the property is kept in good repair;
  • any fixtures, fittings or appliances provided are maintained in good working order and comply with relevant product safety legislation;
  • windows and other forms of ventilation are kept in good repair;
  • any large device system or equipment that has been installed is maintained in good repair, clean condition and proper working order;
  • the common parts of the building are looked after and kept clean, safe and free from obstruction;
  • any yard, garden or outbuilding belonging to the HMO is maintained in good repair and clean condition;
  • the condition of fences and boundary walls does not pose a danger to residents.

Rubbish and litter

The HMO manager must make sure that

  • there are enough bins or other receptacles for the requirements of the residents of the HMO;
  • arrangements are made for further disposal of any refuse or litter from the HMO if this is necessary;
  • rubbish and litter do not accumulate in or outside the HMO, unless this has been properly stored while waiting for collection or disposal.

Information, signs and notices

The HMO manager must make sure that

  • a notice explaining who the property manager is has been displayed in the HMO;
  • a copy of the Code of Practice is displayed in the HMO;
  • these notices and documents are kept up to date;
  • he or she has explained to tenants the type of behaviour which would be regarded as unsuitable.

Tenant’s responsibilities under the code of practice

Most of the information in the Code of Practice relates to things the manager must do. But, tenants and other residents also have certain responsibilities. They must:

  • Not prevent or obstruct the manager from carrying out their duties;
  • Allow the HMO manager to access the property at all reasonable times if they are doing something required by the code of practice;
  • Give the manager any information that they may reasonably need in order to carry out something required by the code of practice;
  • Avoid causing damage to anything supplied, maintained or repaired by the manager under the code of practice;
  • Store and dispose of litter and rubbish as per the manager’s arrangements;
  • Follow the manager’s instructions relating to the use of fire equipment or escape from fire;
  • Avoid using portable gas appliances.

If your tenants are ignoring these responsibilities, you should remind them of their duties under the code of practice. Your tenancy agreements should reiterate these responsibilities. If a tenant is habitually breaching these responsibilities and this is causing a risk to the safety of that tenant or any other residents, you may need to consider possession action.

Making tenants aware of their responsibilities

You should provide tenants with a copy of the HMO Code of Practice. But, you should also make sure that the tenants are able to understand this information.

If you have tenants who have literacy issues, disabilities which make reading text difficult or who are not confident reading English, you should consider how you can make this information accessible to them.