Optimising your HMO room sizes

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​​You’re probably aware that under the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2018 the minimum bedroom sizes for HMO’s are: 

  • 4.64 square metres for a child aged under 10 years 
  • 6.51 square metres for one person aged over 10 years 
  • 10.22 square metres for two people aged over 10 years 

But did you know that if the ceiling of any part of a room is under 1.5 metres the floor area under it doesn’t count towards the minimum square footage? 

This is a common barrier many landlords come up against when preparing their property to become a HMO – often when a loft space is being converted into rooms for rent. If low ceilings are not accounted for this minimum room size HMO legislation can lead to a room becoming obsolete. 

However, there are ways to work around low ceilings and increase the maximum number of rentable rooms at your property. Here are a few options for making the most of the space you have: 

  1. Rebuilding the ceiling space 

It’s possible that the ceiling could be rebuilt at a higher level. You’ll need to speak with a specialist HMO architect, get plans drawn up and notify the local housing authority. You should also consider how easy planning permission will be to attain, the actual cost of adjusting the ceiling height and rebuilding the walls to ensure it is architecturally sound.  Finally, you should check if the increased rental value will outweigh the rebuild costs. 

If you’re working with a space hampered by two low ceilings you could consider converting the space into two smaller rooms. As long as they meet the required minimum square footage, this rebuild could gain not one, but two rental rooms.  

  1. Splitting another larger room to meet minimum requirements 

Depending on where the room occupying the low ceiling is based, you may be able to knock through to a larger hallway, or to another larger room without cutting into the spatial requirements of that area. Speak with an HMO architecture specialist to consider all options – you could be sitting on unnecessary space elsewhere, and some creative thinking might be all you need to restructure existing plots. 

  1. Utilising the space for a communal space 

If you don’t want to take on the hassle and cost of rebuilding  you could tap into the ‘working from home’ trend by making the room a shared office space. Although rooms in a HMO used for sleeping typically deliver higher rental yields, this shared space would allow you to charge an additional monthly premium on the existing rooms.  

In summary there are a number of creative options to ensure you comply with HMO minimum room size regulations whilst ensuring you create an attractive property for the right tenant. The key is working with a specialist who understands the market and can develop a space which accommodates their needs.