HMO insurance has been specifically developed for landlords who own and let a House in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
HMOs are a form of shared housing. Officially, an HMO is defined as a property that is occupied by at least three people who comprise more than a single household and share certain basic facilities in the dwelling, such as a bathroom and kitchen.
If the property is occupied by five or more people, comprising more than one household, and at least some of them share facilities like a bathroom or kitchen, it is classified as a large HMO – and the landlord must hold a licence from the local authority to run it as such.
In some areas of some local authorities, the landlord of any HMO – standard or large – requires a local authority licence to let the property.
To hold such a licence, you must agree to any conditions imposed by the local council relating to how the property is let and the standards of accommodation that must be maintained to prevent overcrowding and the health and safety of all tenants living in the premises. You must also demonstrate that you are a “fit and proper person” to be the landlord – that you do not have previous convictions for housing offences, for example.
What does HMO insurance cover?
Specialist HMO insurance recognises these unique characteristics of an HMO and the distinct risks associated with a larger let property in multiple occupation in which some of the most essential facilities – such as bathrooms and kitchens – are shared.
Reflecting those concerns, HMO insurance typically takes into account the number of tenants who may be sharing the let property – since the insured risks are likely to increase as there are more tenants under the same roof.
You might also take comfort from the fact that HMO insurance arranged by ourselves here at Cover4LetProperty also includes cover against malicious damage as standard (limits apply) – a risk to which a let property in multiple occupation may be more than usually vulnerable.
With differences such as these aside, however, HMO insurance extends cover across similar headings to other types of let property or landlord insurance, namely:
- building insurance – to protect the structure and fabric of the building itself;
- contents insurance – to safeguard those contents owned by the landlord;
- landlord liability indemnity insurance – for indemnity against claims raised by those who may have been injured or suffered property damage in your HMO; and
- compensation for loss of rental income – following any serious insured event which may leave the HMO temporarily unlettable pending repairs and reinstatement.
Why can’t I use standard landlord insurance to cover an HMO?
Aa we have seen, an HMO is a distinctive and particular type of let property offering shared accommodation to its tenants.
The risks and perils for the landlord of any such property, therefore, are also distinctive, particular, and different to those likely to be encountered in a single tenancy rental property.
It is precisely those differences that are not only recognised by specialist HMO insurance but also distinguish it from standard landlord insurance policies. Indeed, the specialist nature of HMO insurance is such that if you rely solely on regular, standard landlord insurance to safeguard your HMO you may find out – too late – that any claim is rejected because you failed to arrange the appropriate specialist cover.
If you are the landlord of an HMO, therefore, you must first comply with the special conditions and terms of any licence required by your local authority.
Because it offers a distinctive form of shared accommodation, HMO insurance is also a specialist product formulated specifically for landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
For further reading, you might want to review out detailed information on the subject – A Landlord’s Guide to HMOs.