What is HMO (House with Multiple-Occupancy)?

You will know if your property or someone else’s property is a House with Multiple-Occupancy (HMO) if:

  • At least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • You share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

The correct definition of a ‘household’ is a property that contains a single person, or a property that consists of more people but of the same family. With modern days ‘same family’ can mean more than the traditional married mother, father and two son’s scenario. Now the ‘same family’ also applied to the boyfriend and girlfriend that live together and people in same-sex relationships.

However if you do live with 3 other people who are also paying rent to a landlord, then you live in an HMO. The landlord has a responsibility to meet certain standards and obligations set by the government. These responsibilities include making sure that communal areas such as the shared bathroom is in a good state of repair and that fire safety measure are in place.

An HMO can be any of the below:

  • A house split into separate bedsits
  • A shared house or shared flat, where people have separate renting agreements
  • A hostel
  • A bed-and-breakfast hotel that isn’t just for holidays
  • Shared accommodation for students – though a lot of halls of residence and other types of student accommodation owned by educational establishments aren’t classed as HMOs.

Some HMOs must be licensed which your landlord must do before setting-up rental agreements. With this licence the council must set certain conditions to ensure the safety of furniture, gas, and electricity installations in the property. It is in fact a criminal offence if your landlord has not had the HMO licensed and could be fined £2,000. Saying this however, if you do find out that the HMO you are living in has not been licensed, you can not withhold rent.

How to complain

If you have a complaint about the HMO you are living in such as any hazards, then you can report them to your local council. The council will then take action to make sure the landlord corrects any problems.

House Price Index – March 2013

House price increases down but inequality up, says the Office of National Statistics (ONS)

The Office of National Statistics today released the latest house price figures for March 2013, showing that the speed of house price inflation has slowed.

To give you an idea of the comparison at which the rise of prices has slowed, prices across the nation as a whole rose by 1.9% between February 2012 and February 2013.

That compares with a preceding yearly increase of 2.2% in the 12 months to January. Even though these statistics are based on a national coverage, there is however still areas in the UK that are not seeing this slower speed of house price inflation. The nationwide number reflected a broad inequality across different regions of the UK, which appears to be rising.

According to the Office of National Statistics, house prices in London are now rising at 5.9% year on year. Where as in Scotland and Northern Ireland, they have seen deeper house price falls then ever before.

Prices north of the border are declining by 1.2%, as those in Northern Ireland are down by a massive 7.7% over the last year. With stats not that off from London, Wales house prices are now at an increasing rate of 4.1%, up from just 0.9% in January.

Another region in the UK that is performing healthier than most is north-east England, where prices are up by 2.4%. Ernst and Young’s Item Club earlier this week predicted that house prices in the UK would actually stay almost at a standstill over the next two years.

Its prediction suggested that prices would rise to 2.1% in 2014, but recover to 5% in 2015.

National Statistics House price index 2013 (Download Here)

Future updates on the House Price index 2013

Monday 20th May 2013
Monday 15th June 2013
Monday 15th July 2013

With all this in mind, if you are thinking of moving, or buying your first or next property, why not start the search here.

 

How to deal with noisy neighbours

Struggling to sleep at night because next door like to have 12-hour rave parties in the wee hours of the morning? Rather than losing your cool, take a look at these tips to help you resolve the conflict.

While most people were ringing in the New Year for 2013, I was pounding my fist against my bedroom wall and wishing unpleasant things on my neighbours. A group of students moved in next door and host monthly parties that start at around 11pm and don’t end until 11am the next day. As can be expected, this results in very little sleep and a lot of frustration. So what’s the best way to deal with this without creating a ‘neighbours from hell’ scenario?

Your rights with noisy neighbours

According to the Noise Act 1996, any excessive noise between 11pm and 7am the next day are deemed to be causing a nuisance. The definition of ‘excessive noise’ is a bit hazy, so there is no hard and fast rule for this. As a general guide, any noise above 85 decibels (dB) is considered to be the level of noise that can cause damage after prolonged exposure, and anything above 50 dB at night could be considered noise pollution.

Don’t try to live with it, and don’t reciprocate

Trust me on this one – don’t try to live with the noise, because it won’t get easier. If you’re expecting the constant thrum of dubstep to become part of the background noise, you’ll be disappointed. Nip it in the bud as soon as it happens, otherwise you’ll only get angrier and more frustrated every time it occurs.

On the same note, don’t try to reciprocate their actions e.g. hammering the wall in annoyance, turning your music up even louder or deliberately making more noise than they are (I’ve been guilty of all three). This will only escalate things further, so don’t be tempted to vent your frustration elsewhere. Hammering the wall is also likely to leave a dent, leading to an expensive home insurance claim and a very awkward conversation with your landlord. Don’t try that.

Talk to them, but time it well

If you’re anything like me, telling your neighbours that they’re being too loud and rowdy is just about the most uncomfortable thing you can think of. That being said, about a third of all people with noisy neighbours found that actually communicating the problem to them resolved the issue straight away, according to the HomeOwners Alliance. If face-to-face interaction fills you with dread (as it does me), then leave them a polite note to explain the facts.

Timing is essential for this to be most effective. You don’t want to storm into a house full of drunken revellers during a party and start shouting at them; that’ll only lead to a bad situation. You’re better off catching them when they’re having a quiet moment so you can have a word without losing your temper.

Reporting noise pollution

This may vary depending on your local council, so check with them to ensure you’re following the best method. You can find your local authority on the Directgov website.

It’s the responsibility of your local authority to investigate any instances of noise pollution (this comes under ‘statutory nuisance’, which also covers light pollution, smoke and insect infestations). The government’s definition of what counts as a ‘statutory nuisance’ is anything that is ‘unreasonably interfering with the use or enjoyment of your premises’. So, if your next door neighbours are throwing wheelie bins at one another at 4am (this was the same New Year’s party that kept me awake all night) you’ll have good reason to initiate a complaint.

Depending on your local council, you might be provided with an email address, phone number or online form to register your complaint. Remember to stick to the facts and not to let your frustration influence what you say.

What happens next?

The noise pollution officer will visit the house and issue a ‘noise abatement’ order. This basically tells them to pipe down or they’ll face legal action. If they break this order, the noise officer is within their rights to confiscate any noise making equipment (stereos, TVs, or in my case, a set of professional, festival grade amplifiers that were brought in by a DJ) and fine them up to £5,000.

Suggest that your neighbours let you know in advance if they’re planning on having a get together. That way you can make plans to be away or be out while they’re making their noise. This shouldn’t mean that you’re forced to leave your home whenever your neighbours get a bit loud, but knowing in advance will ease the situation and allow you to keep your options open.

If things get out of hand …

Sometimes it’s not just noise that’s the problem. Where there’s a party, there’s usually alcohol, and that can bring with it a whole host of problems. If you hear any arguments or see the beginnings of a fight breaking out, then call the police straight away. If the party spills out into the street and the revellers are generally being disorderly, then that counts as a breach of the peace, and you should also call the police to deal with that.

Dealing with noisy neighbours in this way means that you’ll be able to deal with the problem quickly, maintain the moral high ground and minimise any conflict between you and your neighbours. Have a good night’s sleep!

How have you dealt with your noisy neighbours? Let me know in the comments below!

Jamie Gibbs is the lifestyle blogger for home insurance comparison site Confused.com. He keeps a pair of noise cancelling headphones and a copy of Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell by his bedside table ready for whenever next door have a party.