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Who is responsible for the communal areas in a HMO?

A House in Multiple Occupation, which forms part of the Housing Act and may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Act, is any property that houses two or more ‘families’, who share communal facilities such as bathrooms, gardens, stairs, corridors and kitchens. An example may be a house which is accommodated by several students who share kitchen and bathroom facilities.

All HMO require the Landlord to acquire a license under the Housing Act so that the dwelling is deemed fit for accommodation. Should they fail to comply with this requirement, Tenants’ may apply to have their rent withheld or backdated for the past up to the 12 months. A Tenant may also invoke breaches of the Landlord and Tenant Act can allow action to be bought against a Landlord.

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act, Tenants’ are obliged to maintain areas of the property to keep them in a good state of repair. It is then up to the Landlord to repair any furnishings and fittings that become defective.

Communal areas are to be maintained by the Tenants’ but the Landlord is under an obligation to ensure this is carried out in order to comply with the Landlord and Tenant Act and Housing Act requirement to provide a safe and healthy living requirement.

Should the Housing authorities deem that a HMO is unfit then a Landlord may lose his/her license; alternatively a Landlord may choose to evict the Tenant’s should they fail to maintain the communal areas to an acceptable level. The Tenancy Agreement which is drawn up between the parties under the Landlord and Tenant Act will contain the necessary information for the relevant decisions to be made and will be the first point of reference when disputes/breaches arise.

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