The market for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) has expanded to the extent that the Leeds Building Society has launched an HMO mortgage range.

The new range comprises two year fixed-rate deals for small or large HMO properties:

  • 1.99% available up to 60% LTV (loan to value) with a £999 fee for small properties
  • 3.59% available up to 70% LTV with a £1,999 fee for large properties
  • 3.84% available up to 75% LTV with a £1,999 fee for large properties

Recent changes to legislation could see more investors and landlords adding HMOs to their portfolios. Since 1 October 2018, landlords have to apply for HMO licences regardless of the number of stories in their property – the previous minimum was three.

The rule change meant that thousands more landlords needed to apply for licences, but also potentially brought more properties within range of landlords wishing to change them into HMOs.

An option for the student property market?

An ever-growing student population is one market that could be affected by the rule changes, and the Leeds’ new products. A recent Which? survey found that 27% of first-year university students start looking for their year two accommodation by the end of November, flagging up the demand and pressure in this sector.

New minimum bedroom sizes have also come into play in HMOs in a bid to prevent overcrowding, and landlords may be asked to provide accurate floor plans when they apply for a licence, while councils are entitled to inspect homes. There are new council refuse schemes for HMOs, which landlords need to be aware of and adhere to when the rules take effect.

The Leeds say that their new products reflect the fact that landlords, paying more tax and affected by changes in legislation, are looking to diversify their portfolios.

“In addition to the bespoke products we’ve developed for this specialist market, we’ve refined and improved our lending criteria to align with planning and licensing requirements for the two types of HMO,” said Matt Bartle, Leeds Building Society’s Director of Products.

“More landlords seeking higher yields are likely to move into this specialist area, which is a well-established part of the Private Rented Sector, particularly in university towns and urban areas with higher housing costs.

“Changes to the Buy to Let market over the past few years are driving greater ‘professionalism’ among landlords and we support the Government’s aim of improving the quality of all rental stock, including HMOs, to help more people to have the home they want.”