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HMO Conversion Guide: Essential Tips for Prospective Landlords

Published by Susan Basnet
Posted Date: June 4, 2024 , Modified Date: June 4, 2024

Are you a prospective property owner eager to venture into the realm of a house of multiple occupations (HMO)? If so, one venue worth exploring is HMO conversion. This comprehensive guide is designed to equip you with all the essential information you need before embarking on your HMO conversion journey.

What is HMO Conversion?

When a property is converted from its current classification to a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), typically labelled as C4 under planning regulations, this transformation is known as HMO conversion. HMO conversion stands out as a lucrative business model, consistently proving to be a high-income generator and a sought-after venture in the UK.

HMO landlords, unlike those in traditional flat rentals, benefit from rental income sourced from more than three individuals within the same property. This unique model is gaining increasing popularity in the real estate landscape.

You might be tempted to convert your property into an HMO. However, before you venture into HMO conversion, there are crucial considerations landlords like you must address. Below are key areas that demand your attention.

Costs on HMO conversion

One initial downside of HMO conversion is the significant cost on conversion. The costs on conversion can vary based on the location, quality of the materials, license requirements, and more. Below are some of the most common costs incurred on HMO conversion:

Costs on HMO conversion

Council tax

Planning Permission costs

License costs

Construction costs

Material costs

Survey costs

Renovation costs

Fire Regulations costs

Furniture costs

Planning Permission

Planning permission is the formal approval granted by a local council that allows individuals to undertake HMO conversion. While not all HMO conversions need planning permission, their requirements depend on the property's location.

In permitted development areas, planning permission is not mandatory. However, prospective HMO landlords must obtain approval for planning permission from the council if the property is located within the Article 4 directive area.

It is advisable to consult with the local council to clarify whether your property falls under the Article 4 directive area and the necessary permissions.


Similar to planning permission, another crucial aspect of HMO conversion is HMO licensing. The necessity for licensing depends on the type of HMO and the regulations set by your local council.

Generally, properties accommodating five or more people with shared facilities require mandatory licensing. However, local councils may exercise discretion in applying licensing to HMOs with fewer than five beds. Consulting with your local council is essential to clarify specific licensing requirements.

Value Added Tax (VAT) on Construction

VAT is a significant relief for prospective HMO landlords, as HMO conversions qualify for the reduced VAT rate of 5%. This means that the main contractor charges only 5% VAT on invoices for the conversion, compared to the standard rate of 20%. This advantage is especially beneficial for landlords not registered for VAT.

Value Added Tax (VAT) on Construction

To be eligible, conversions must qualify, i.e., there should be a change in the number of household dwellings. As HMO conversions are assumed to have changes in the number of dwellings, it is deemed eligible for the VAT at reduced rate.

VAT at reduced rate applies to qualifying services, which include services undertaken on the fabric of the building, such as works on walls, roof, internal surfaces, floors, stairs, windows, doors, etc.

It should be noted that expenditure on professional services, such as architects' and surveyors' fees, along with costs incurred on the furniture for the property, will be subject to VAT at the standard rate.

For detailed information on how VAT applies to properties, please read our article on VAT on residential property.

Safety Standards

The HMO sector is subject to extensive regulations, and landlords must adhere to specific standards for a smooth experience. All HMOs are required to have self-closing fire doors and smoke alarms. Additionally, landlords must comply with various safety standards, which may vary between councils. It is advisable to consult with your local council to understand the specific building and construction standards you are expected to meet.

For a deeper understanding of the HMO regulatory requirements, please read our article on HMO Rules.


In summary, as you consider becoming a landlord, you're on the edge of an exciting journey with your HMO conversion. Navigating planning, licensing, and VAT nuances is key. You hold the power to create safe spaces and unlock success in this dynamic real estate niche. Seize the opportunity and embrace the journey.

Need expert advice on HMOs and property taxation?

Contact us today for efficient and hassle-free assistance.

Susan Basnet
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