Renting HMOs Sussed by the HMO Landlady is the featured review in the February 2013 edition of Your Property Network magazine.
Scroll to the bottom of the review for an exclusive deal from Property Bookshop!
Published in the second half of last year, Renting HMOs Sussed is a concise, up-to-date guide of what running a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) is really like. A series of short chapters covers the practical aspects of this branch of property investing.
For some reason I expected this book to be difficult to read, which just goes to show that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Written in a straightforward style with a dash of humour, essential information about HMOs is delivered in bite-sized chunks. I finished it in two days and, unusual when reading a practical book, was left wanting more.
Who is this book for and What can you expect to gain from reading it?
You are most likely to benefit from reading this if you are thinking about venturing into HMO territory, regardless of whether you already have experience of letting other types of property. You may also find it helpful if you already have one or two HMOs and want to improve your processes to expand and take on more.
HMO Landlady talks not only about life … well as an HMO landlady, but also covers key issues such as your market and the type of people that you can expect as tenants. Ben Reeve-Lewis discusses the legal aspects in a section entitled “A Concise and Important Guide to Housing Law”. For existing landlords much of this will be familiar, but he does focus on a few points specific to HMOs, for example landlord’s access to communal versus private areas and the law on abandonment, which can be more of a problem for HMO landlords.
Although I’ve been involved in renting out property with The Other Half for several years, I found this brief canter through the law a useful review. If you have any question marks over your knowledge of housing law, the book provides a quick reference and is worth buying for this alone.
The Other Half and I already have one HMO – a student let – and I wish this book had been available before we took it on. The chapters “Set Up” and “How to Advertise” tell you how to get started. I spent ages working out how to furnish rooms and communal areas and the lists provided would have saved me a lot of time. “Effective Management of an HMO” is your starter for ten on how to manage tenants once you have let the rooms. And “What to do when a Tenant goes AWOL” would have been useful last year when one of our students disappeared (after involving the police, it turned out she had gone back to her home city without telling her family).
HMO Landlady makes it very clear that the nature of tenants is quite different from those you are likely to meet in single-unit rentals. A more transient bunch, turnover is much higher and you will need to get your hands dirty both as a landlord and as a handyman/woman.
Other than mentioning Article 4 Direction, “a planning law designed to prevent an oversupply of HMOs by requiring a planning application to be submitted to change a property from a dwelling house into an HMO”, there is nothing in the book about identifying locations for a particular sector of tenant. As HMOs can cater for students, LHA and professional working tenants, location of a house is important. A brief introduction to identifying the right property in the right area according to the type of tenant you want to cater for might have been additionally helpful when discussing what HMOs are and the market.
Organisation and Systemisation
A key point I learned from this book is that to run more than one HMO, being organised is essential. It is evident from the early chapters that this landlady has systemised all her processes and created a business that runs smoothly, despite the occasional mishap beyond one’s control.
With my limited HMO experience, it was good to find out we were on the right track, that someone with much more experience was validating a) things we had done, such as hiring a cleaner for the communal areas; and b) what we had experienced, such as frequent calls for lock-outs and minor household issues, and tenants not getting on with each other.
There are lots of organisational tips, which include making sure you have a plentiful stock of keys (tenants lose them frequently), the best ways to collect rent (depends on the type of tenant) and installing tamper-proof thermostat controls. Where relevant, web addresses where you can source or find out more details about useful products are included.
I loved the brief chapter on “Rules of the House” and will certainly be adopting these for current and future HMOs (thank you for that one, HMO Landlady).
At the end, it is mentioned that this book is part of a “Sussed” series. I was inspired enough to see if there were any other useful titles. Sadly the publisher’s web site has been discontinued due to the death of the founder. It is possible the brand may be revived – I hope so because the format is excellent for property investing subjects. In summary, if you are thinking of acquiring an HMO or if you have taken the first step and want to expand, read this book.
Included by Rob & Rob of The Property Hub as one of their favourites in The Property Podcast 62: Seven Property Investment Books You Should Read.
Exclusive Deal for Property Bookshop Readers
We’ve secured an exclusive deal direct with HMO Landlady: the book has been updated and is only available from us and the author!
Make sure you select the ** UPDATED VERSION ** from Amazon seller Property Bookshop.
NB: The updated version has 98 pages, not 100 as appears on the Amazon listing.
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