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Running an HMO, is it really that bad?

November 1st, 2016
Running an HMO, is it really that bad?

Every landlord and property manager has been there. You’re alarm goes off, you roll over to turn it off and check your phone. Seven missed calls, four text messages and a lot of emails. What fresh hell will you be dealing with today?

Due to the nature of HMOs this problem can be multiplied. Every time a different person goes to use the kettle and it does not work, they report it to you – unbeknownst to them, you have already heard about this three times because they have not spoken to the other tenants. By this point you have spent about triple the time you were expecting to spend on dealing with this problem. This means important work is not being done and your business is missing out.

By the time you’re up and awake, the next call comes in from your contractor you hired to paint the walls in the communal living room. There is nobody in so they cannot get into the property to complete the work. Frustration hits. This time had been set, several tenants had been present when this happened and had assured that there would be somebody in. The message was obviously not translated and now you’re stuck with either a bill from the contractor for their time or rushing across to the property to let them in yourself.

Fortunately, maintenance issues are irregular and can often be fixed with relative ease. The problem many property managers face is that HMOs often have a much higher turnover rate than single lets. Your next call could be a tenant terminating their contract, or a tenancy coming to an end. Now the nice long checklist of what needs to be done comes out and you can see your day slipping away from you. Suddenly, you are the last one left in the office, with no idea where your day went. On top of this, you may have rents coming in at different times during the month that need to be reconciled, agent fees to pay, invoices to check, the list goes on… It is for these reasons (and more) that, despite the higher yields HMOs offer, many landlords shy away from taking one on or hire a professional property manager – something that severely cuts into your profits.

However thanks to smartphones, and other technology, the running of HMOs is becoming easier than ever. Property technology has exploded and there are now countless software’s available to help people manage their property portfolio. Once an HMO is properly licenced and up and running, the biggest problem they pose is how time consuming they are; this is what the technology is aimed at changing. It is life changing.

Instead of the nightmare day that was described, picture this. You wake up to one notification on your phone letting you know that the kettle is broken, a few taps and a new kettle will be arriving the next day. A few more taps and all tenants are notified of this. No more calls and you can get on with your morning. The next issue mentioned earlier doesn’t even arise. Instead of receiving a call from the contractor, they are able to walk into the property, where a tenant has waited for them, complete the work and leave again. All tenants received a message informing them that the work was happening and a reminder on the day. Already hours of work have been saved.

Finally, the big one, the high turnover is no longer such a big issue – and actually decreases. When a tenancy ends, the software automatically sets a series of events in motion: letting agents and inventory clerks are notified, check lists for the unit are created and you have only pressed one button. Furthermore, you were aware of the fact the tenancy was ending because the software was tracking it and let you know.

Suddenly, you have a lot more time to get on with important work such as rent reconciliation and working to expand your business. The nightmare day has slipped past with a breeze.

Property technology is truly life altering. Your HMOs go from a constant pain to a constant profit stream: stress goes down, free time goes up. One thing to note when choosing a property technology is to check how the software caters for HMOs. Some will try and make you put each unit in as a separate property; this means your ability notify all tenants easily when an issue arises is removed, making your life more difficult. Property technology is the future and the quicker you dive in, the quicker your business can grow.

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