‘Oh no HMO’ – often the first thought of those living in neighbourhoods where an HMO is being planned. And it’s no surprise. Thanks to negative media coverage, many people can be forgiven for thinking that all HMOs are unkempt bedsits housing several people to a room or the main cause of antisocial behaviour.

Noisy tenants, overflowing bins, limited parking and extravagant extensions are usually among the most common concerns.

For this reason, many HMO landlords have encountered objections from neighbours when planning an HMO in their area. However, there are several strategies that professional landlords with professional tenants can adopt, both in the early stages to alleviate neighbours’ concerns and during and afterrefurbishment to make sure they are happy.

Introduce yourself

One of the reasons that HMOs cause a problem in a neighbourhood is because the people living there are rarely aware one is being planned – at least not until they are notified by the local authority! So, make a point of introducing yourself to the neighbours and explain what your intensions are. If they know that the house will be finished to a high standard and eventually be home to young professionals and key workers, they are less likely to worry. They’ll also feel more at ease knowing that you are a responsible landlord and one that is willing to be contacted directly about any concerns.

It’s also courteous to show them the finished property once complete – after all, actions speak louder than words.

Highlight the benefits

It is often the case that the properties HMO landlords buy are run down and in dire need of some TLC. Therefore, you can demonstrate how your end product is likely to be a much more attractive option than leaving it in its current state. This could have a knock-on effect on house prices in the street, especially if the property was previously an empty eyesore.

However, with properties that were formerly family homes, neighbours worry that an HMO conversion could have the reverse effect on house values. Explain that your conversion will be done so that it can easily be transformed back to its original purpose.

Be considerate

During refurbishment, try to take into consideration your neighbours – make sure noisy building work is only done during reasonable working hours and take in to account retired people or people with young children who might be affected. Make sure contractors have somewhere off road to park and try to ensure that any extensions won’t affect the neighbours view.

After the work is complete, a kind gesture wouldn’t go amiss. A bottle of wine thanking them for their patience and cooperation or even a house warming party at the property would be greatly appreciated. It would also give you the opportunity to build strong relationships with them.

Offer to help

During the refurbishment period, there may be opportunities where you could help out your immediate neighbours. If you’re erecting a new fence, perhaps offer to do theirs? If a shared drive is being block paved, why not go the whole hog? If you’re clearing the garden, you could trim their hedges. Or, it could be as simple as offering them leftover supplies. Any good deed goes a long way, and won’t be quickly forgotten.

Maintain the house to a good standard

Nobody wants to live next to a badly kept house – not only is it an eyesore, but in the worst cases, could attract vermin or other issues. Keep it in a good condition, and encourage your tenants to do the same.

Educate your tenants

Once you have tenanted the property, make sure your tenants are clear on a set of guidelines for their behaviour. These should include keeping noise to a minimum, parking respectfully and managing the household waste effectively.

Most importantly, ask that they are polite to the neighbours, and do their best to deal with any problems sensibly.

Deal with issues immediately

If a neighbour complains about anything, deal with it as soon as possible, in an effective way. Once you’ve dealt with the problem, contact the neighbour and let them know what action you have taken. This will show them that you take them seriously and that you conduct your business in a professional manner.

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Above all, always try to see things from your neighbour’s point of view. You can’t expect to be able to please everyone all of the time, but if you take a few simple actions, you’ll find the whole process of creating and running your HMO so much simpler.

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Whether you’re keen to find out more about Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), or want information on the latest lettings legislation, you’ll find it here on the blog.