HMO Energy Prices – are you paying too much?

HMO Energy Prices

If you’re scratching your head as to why your monthly energy bill is so expensive, it might be that you’re paying too much. Regularly checking your energy prices has become an essential task for HMO Landlords, especially since the energy crisis in 2022.

Commercial vs Domestic Rates

A significant aspect of managing HMO energy costs involves deciding between domestic and commercial rates. Traditionally, commercial rates were the go-to option for HMO properties. However, the landscape has shifted dramatically since the onset of the energy crisis. At the time of writing, domestic rates are generally more competitive. If you’re on a commercial fixed rate then you should check against the market domestic rate – use comparison sites such as MoneySuperMarket and Uswitch . If the rates are cheaper then contact your energy supplier to explain that the supply is for a domestic property and you want to change to the domestic rate.

Ensuring You’re Not Overpaying on Commercial Rates

If your HMO is on a commercial energy rate and you’re happy to stay on it, it’s vital to ensure you’re not inadvertently overpaying. Firstly, check your bills to ensure that you are not paying the climate change levy (CCL). The CCL is a government-imposed tax aimed at encouraging energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, residential properties, including HMOs, are typically exempt. Secondly, confirm that you’re being charged the reduced VAT rate of 5% applicable to residential energy supplies. These adjustments can make a significant difference to your overall energy costs. To apply for these exemptions, contact your energy supplier directly and provide the necessary documentation to prove your eligibility.

HMO Energy Prices – The Power of Negotiation with Brokers

Using a broker can simplify the process of finding the best energy deals. However, the key to maximising this advantage lies in negotiation. Don’t hesitate to pit one broker against another to secure the most competitive rates. Brokers have access to deals that may not be directly available to the public, and their desire to win your business can work in your favour. Ensure you’re clear about your needs and the rates you’re being offered elsewhere. This transparency can motivate brokers to find you deals that match or even undercut the competition.

How Confidence Property Can Help Reduce Your HMO Energy Prices

At Confidence Property, we understand the importance of managing HMO energy prices effectively. While our primary focus isn’t on the energy market, our commitment to supporting HMO Landlords encompasses providing valuable information and guidance on all aspects of property management, including energy cost optimisation and typical kWh consumption.

By staying informed and proactive, you can navigate the challenges of the current energy landscape with confidence.

Fire Extinguishers in HMOs – Yes or No?

fire extinguishers in hmos

Fire extinguishers in HMOs can be a contreverisal topic. If you’ve researched this then you’ll find various opinions, legislation, standards, council requirements that can often contradict each other.

So how do you decide whether to install fire extinguishers in your HMO?

In this article we look at the UK requirements, the pros and cons and how to decide for your HMO.


Council HMO Standards

Different councils have different policies on fire extinguishers. As a first step, it’s a good idea to call your local HMO Officer to ask what their policy is. Many Councils, following advice from the Fire Service, now advise against installing extinguishers in order to reduce the risk of tenants attempting to tackle fires, rather than evacuate the building. Instead, occupants should get out, call 999, and stay out.

Fire Risk Assessment

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 sets out the legal requirements required for fire safety in the common areas of an HMO. There must be a responsible person for ensuring compliance, normally the Landlord or Letting Agent. The responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment.

Although you can undertake a Fire Risk Assessment yourself, it is highly recommended to use a professionally trained fire risk assessor or fire protection company who has the necessary expertise and experience to identify potential fire hazards and recommend appropriate safety measures. They can also provide advice on the latest fire safety regulations and standards.

The risk assessment must be upated on an annual basis.

In 2008 the goverment published the LACORS guidance on fire safety, although parts of the guidance are now outdated. This guidance does not recommend supplying fire extinguishers unless there are resident staff who are trained in their use, as they can lead to problems if they’re not properly maintained or where they are discharged through malice.

Fire Extinguisher Requirements

Where provided, fire extinguishers should:

  • comply with BS EN 3-7
  • be maintained in accordance with BS 5306-3:2017 (annual service by competent person)
  • BS5306 recommends that fire extinguishers are tested by discharge every five years (water foam and powder) and refilled or replaced, and every ten years (CO2).
  • Under the Fire Order, where extinguishers are provided the responsible person must ensure that training is provided to the tenants and repeated periodically where appropriate

Should I remove Fire Extinguishers from my HMO?

If not required by your Council or Fire Risk Assessment then it probably makes sense to remove any fire extinguishers in order to avoid unecessary training, service and replacement costs. In Manchester at the time of writing (2024), it currently costs around £60 for an annual service of all extinguishers and £45 – £75 to replace a fire extinguisher depending on size and type. As an illustration, removing 3 extinguishers would save around £8/month in service and replacement costs (every 5 years), excluding training.

Fire Extinguishers in HMOs – Conclusion

Fire extinguishers are not a legal requirement in HMOs unless a fire risk assessment deems them necessary. You should also check the requirements of your local council.

If you do decide to install fire extinguishers then make sure they are serviced annually by a competent person in accordance with BS 5306-3 and replaced (or discharge test carried out) every 5 years. Also make sure that regular training is provided to your tenants.

At Confidence Property we work with a Fire Protection Company so that our HMO Landlords can relax, knowing that their HMOs are compliant with the latest fire extinguisher legislation.

Salford Planning Update on 2024 Changes

salford article 4

Salford Planning News. In October 2023, Salford Council announced their intention to introduce a Supplementary Planning Document with an HMO concentration criteria to assist in planning decisions. The threshold aims to prevent the over-concentration of HMOs in specific areas, thereby maintaining the residential character of neighbourhoods. On 23/02/24 the Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) was made available and a consultation is running until Friday 5 April 2024.

10% HMO Concentration Threshold

The SPD aims to regulate the establishment of new HMOs within Salford, supplementing existing planning policies. Policy HMO1 stipulates that planning permission will not typically be granted for new HMOs or extensions to existing ones if the proportion of HMOs exceeds, or would exceed, 10% of all residential properties within a 100-meter radius.

The number of HMOs within the 100m radius will be obtained from HMO Additional and Mandatory Licenses data. This is available on Salford Council’s interactive map and is updated on a daily basis.

The number of residential properties within the 100m radius will be obtained from Council Tax records.

Salford Council states “It is likely that an updated SPD will be adopted as Council policy in Summer 2024”.

salford article 4

Extended Article 4 Area – It’s Coming!

salford article 4

In October 2023 Salford Council decided that an additional Article 4 direction relating to small HMOs
(3-6 people) should be introduced and that this would come into force on 17 November 2024.

Any works to change the use of dwellinghouses to small HMOs which started before 17 November 2024 in the areas affected by the proposed additional (new) article 4 Direction can continue without the need for planning permission.

Engaging in the Consultation Process

For further information and to participate in the consultation, visit Salford City Council’s website.
All comments should be received by the city council no later than 4.30pm on Friday 5 April 2024.

What does this mean for me?

I have an upcoming HMO conversion project in the Proposed New Article 4 area

Start the works before 17/11/24 and keep a record.
Otherwise, you’ll need to put in a planning application which will be subject to the new 10% threshold if the SPD has been adopted.

I have an HMO in the Proposed New Article 4 area area that I’m thinking of extending to 6-persons

Start the works before 17/11/24 and keep a record.
Otherwise, you’ll need to put in a planning application which will be subject to the new 10% threshold if the SPD has been adopted.

I have an HMO in the Existing 2018 Article 4 area that I’m thinking of extending to 6-persons

We would highly recommend that you engage a Planning Consultant or Architect and submit a planning application as soon as possible before the SPD is due to be adopted in Summer 2014.

I want to do an HMO conversion in Salford

If you are looking at a property in the new article 4 area then consider the timeline for purchase and starting works. The clock is ticking towards the 17/11/24 deadline. If it looks like you’ll need planning then we would highly recommend that you engage a Planning Consultant or Architect. You could also look at the 3 remaining wards outside of article 4, namely Boothstown & Ellenbrook, Higher Irlam & Peel Green and Cadishead and Lower Irlam. However, you’ll need to bear in mind tenant demand and property prices.

I’m thinking about selling my Salford HMO

If your HMO is in an article 4 area then your buyer will probably require a Certificate of Lawful Development (CLD) if they are buying with a mortgage, or in order for them to submit a new HMO Licence Application (yes, Licensing are now asking for this!). You can apply for a CLD through the Salford Planning Portal.

On the plus side, if your HMO is an article 4 area then lenders will typically give it a higher valuation.


Don’t be. Here at Confidence Property we are here to help Landlords navigate the world of HMOs.
If we can help in any way then please get in touch!