When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Problems with your HMO manager

A HMO, or house in multiple occupation, is a home shared by at least 3 different households. They have extra safety and management standards. 

The person managing your HMO must be a fit and proper person. They must follow a code of practice. This code explains how the manager should look after your property. 

Who is the HMO manager?

Every HMO must have a licence. The licence has to be on display in the property.  This licence should state who is in charge of managing the property. 

The HMO manager may be

  • your landlord, or
  • your letting agent, or
  • another person the landlord has asked to manage the property

The law says that a person is a HMO manager if they

  • receive rents, or other payment, from the residents of the HMO; or
  • are responsible for arranging repairs or refurbishments of the property; or
  • send or receive communications about the HMO to or from the residents or the council; or
  • does any other activity which helps with the management of a HMO

Who is a fit and proper person?

The council will decide if the HMO manager is a fit and proper person. A person may not be able to manage a HMO if they have

  • committed any offence involving drugs, fraud, violence, human trafficking, firearms, sexual offences
  • practiced unlawful discrimination
  • broken any laws relating to tenancies or housing
  • breached the code of practice for HMO managers

The council will look at how the person has dealt with antisocial behaviour.

Code of Practice for HMOs

A code of practice explains how your HMO manager must look after the property. 

Accommodation standards for HMOs in Northern Ireland

The HMO manager must make sure that

Fire safety and carbon monoxide in shared housing

The HMO manager must make sure that

  • your home has proper fire safety equipment as expected by the Fire Safety Guidance for HMOs
  • any equipment provided is in good working order at the start and throughout the tenancy
  • fire escape routes are visible to residents
  • rooms with fuel burning appliances have carbon monoxide alarms
  • fire detection systems are not connected to electricity meters

Internal standards for shared housing

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 in good repair
  • any fixtures, fittings or appliances provided are safe and in good working order 
  • windows and other forms of ventilation are kept in good repair
  • any system or equipment that has been installed is 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 standards in shared housing

The HMO manager must make sure that

  • there are enough rubbish or recycling bins 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

Your responsibilities under the code of practice

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

Help if your HMO manager isn’t following the Code of Practice

Get advice if you are concerned about how your property manager is looking after your HMO.

You can report your concerns to Belfast City Council’s NI HMO unit. If the breach is serious, the council can revoke the HMO licence.