When you are out viewing your next potential HMO investment (house in multiple occupation), you want to be thinking hard about room sizes. Firstly you need to think about whether the bedrooms are a double or a single (or something in between). You need to make sure the kitchen will fit the needs of your tenants and you need to make sure that the lounge will seat everyone comfortably. If you get everything right then you will find tenants faster and they will stay for longer.
Today we’re going to be looking at room sizes in HMOs – three things that you really don’t want to forget about when you’re out viewing your next potential property to for renting to multiple tenants.
So let’s just jump straight in…
The first thing you want to be looking at when you’re out there viewing properties as a potential multiple occupancy homes are bedroom sizes. This is very important when it comes to renting the property out quickly, to the right tenants and for long periods of time. If the bedrooms are too small, you’re going to struggle to get them let.
On the other hand, you don’t want the bedrooms to be too big as that would be a waste of space. If you have a room which is gigantic (relatively speaking) then you might want to chop that room in half, utilising the space as two bedrooms.
Ideal Room Sizes: Bedrooms
With this in mind, you should ideally be looking at bedroom sizes of a minimum of six and a half metres squared for a single room and eight square metres for a double. Of course, there aren’t standard room sizes in houses and more often than not you’re not going to find somewhere that fits perfectly into this formula so sometimes you have to think a bit creatively. If you have a rectangular room or say the room is seven or seven and a half square metres, instead of a single or double bed you should be looking at three-quarter, double sized bed. Of course in this scenario, you should also be thinking in terms of pricing the room cheaper than you would if it were a full sized double.
Hopefully, that kind of room sizes gives you a little bit of something to play with when you’re going out viewing your next HMO. So it’s about six and a half square metres for a single, about eight square metres a double and, in some situations, there is something in between.
The second thing you really want to be looking at when you’re trying to find that perfect HMO – and a lot of investors tend to miss this out – is the size of the kitchen. The kitchen is going to be a primary communal space for your tenants and it needs to have sufficient floor and wall space for that purpose.
This isn’t going to be so much of a problem if you’re looking at a four bedroom HMO. For this number of tenants, most kitchen sizes (unless it’s very tiny) will work. However, if you are going up to five, six, maybe even seven tenants/bedrooms then you need to a good understanding of what you need to provide wth that kitchen space.
This is for two reasons. The first is health and safety. If you’ve got a good number of tenants in the property then you will need to start thinking in terms of providing two sinks, two cookers, that kind of thing.
The second is simply about providing a good quality of life for your tenants. Say you have five tenants in your HMO, you want them to be sharing cupboards as little as possible as this sets them up for arguments as to who has the most space etc. You want them each to have their own cupboard space. More generally you want them to be able to use and live in the property in comfort.
So when it comes to viewing a potential HMO investment and you are looking at kitchen space try to resist just looking at it and saying to yourself, “Yeah, it looks ok”. You want to take measurements for later. You want to make sure that there will be enough cupboard space for the number of tenants you are looking to get in. If that number is going to be six, seven, even 8+ tenants then even at the viewing stage you need to be asking if there is enough space for two cookers, two sinks – you need to really be thinking about the requirements the kitchen is going to have to meet, right from the off.
The third thing you want to have a good look at when you are thinking about room sizes in your potential HMO investment is the communal area. There is a caveat here in that you don’t necessarily have to provide such a space at all (we have a video coming out soon which will address this issue).
Let’s go on the assumption that you are going to provide a communal space (lounge). In that case, again, you have to make sure that it is going to be big enough for the tenants to be able to use it. So, if it’s a five bedroom property you need to know that the lounge is big enough to comfortably sit five people.
I know this seems obvious but a lot of investors simply don’t bother to measure the rooms and check that they’re fit for purpose before they invest in the property.They tend to go through the viewing process quickly and think, “Ok, it’s got four, five, six potential bedrooms, that’s great. The kitchen is ok, there’s a bathroom or two.”
They run through their mental checklist missing a lot of the detail and often they skip over the communal, lounge space entirely.
Ideal Room Sizes: The Lounge
Ideally, with the communal space, you’re going to need around ten square metres plus (obviously this is in a perfect world). This size room should then give you enough space to provide enough sofa positions for your tenants. If it’s a five-bed house there will be enough space for five seats on sofas. You need enough space for people to sit down and have a small table and chairs as well as a little dining set (all the good stuff). You need to think about TV sizes and dimensions. Your aim should always be to provide a decent quality of life for your tenants.
So let’s recap… When you are out viewing your next potential HMO investment you want to be thinking hard about room sizes. Firstly the bedrooms and whether a particular room is a single, a double or something in between. Second is the kitchen and whether it will fit the necessary amenities and utilities. Thirdly the communal, lounge space and whether it will comfortably fit the number of tenants that you hope to rent out to. And remember, if the house is properly adapted to the number of tenants you are hoping to attract you will be able to rent it out quicker, get the right type of tenant into it and your tenants will stay in the property for longer.
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If you have any questions or thoughts on houses of multiple occupancy and HMO investment more generally then please leave them in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.
For more information we recommend the Rental Landlords Association’s article on room size standards for houses in multiple occupation.