Dressing a Room

As an additional sales tool when showing potential tenants around your HMO, the room ideally needs to be dressed. By dressing a room I mean ensuring that it is displayed to its fullest effect so that potential tenants can imagine themselves actually living there, sleeping there and making this their home. This means making the bed with a duvet and cushions, and possibly a throw. Are the pictures straight, the bin empty, the windows clean? Is the living room tidy, cushions plumped and curtains drawn? Turn all the lights on and consider replacing the low energy lights with higher wattage ones for the viewing. Close all the doors and drawers to the furniture. If the room has a slight smell (either from the previous inhabitant or as a result of being new) stick a plug-in air freshener into one of the sockets. Before the viewing you will also need to arrive early to check all the communal areas and tidy up anything which looks obviously off-putting.

Keep it Simple!

The number one rule for HMO interior design is to keep it simple! Ideally you will have decided on the colour scheme a long time beforehand, as you will need to tell the decorator the colours for walls and woodwork and any special requirements you have. Remember to consider the long-term implications for your colour scheme. Colours that are fashionable now might not be in a few years’ time. In which case have you budgeted for redecorating costs? Minor scuffs and marks will appear after even a couple of months so keep a detailed record of which colours were used first-time round and where, so that paintwork can be touched-up when needed. Although neutral colours may seem bland, remember that you will need to touch-up the paintwork regularly to keep it fresh and clean so having a simple, neutral colour scheme will make it much easier. Matt paint for walls and gloss or sheen-based such as eggshell for woodwork and doors works well. Try and use anti-mould paint in the kitchen and bathroom or anywhere that might be exposed to dampness.

Connected Tenants

Like water, tenants expect broadband to be on tap and in full flow 24 hours a day! Sign up for the highest quality broadband service in your area. Even if it’s slightly more expensive, having unlimited superfast broadband will not only attract tenants but will help keep them too. Order it early as it can take a few weeks for the delivery of the router, and the line to be activated. Choose a suitable location for a shelf where the router can be placed and kept safe from tampering. Unless there is already a power socket nearby, have one fitted. Once fitted, use a Speedchecker App to test that the download and upload speeds are in accordance with the speeds advertised.

The Green Deal

The Green Deal helps landlords and tenants by allowing them to make energy saving improvements to their rental property without having to pay all the costs up front.

These improvements can lead to warmer homes and reduced energy bills over time.

For further information contact: Energy Saving Advice Service (England and Wales) on 0300 123 1234 or Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.

Alternatively, visit www.gov.uk/greendeal

Heating, Lighting and Power

When creating an HMO from scratch, ensure that each bedroom has adequate heating, lighting and power sockets.

We install at least 3 double sockets per room and if light from the window is poor, we will fit an extra light fitting on a wall or ceiling above an area where a desk might be placed.


If you are using a builder who is VAT registered, you may be able to pay a reduced rate of 5% VAT on an HMO development instead of the usual 20%. However this depends on the type of conversion you are undertaking and what the use of the property was before it was converted. You will need to have agreement from your builder to charge you at this reduced rate and certain items are not included. This tip alone could save you thousands of pounds! (For further details please see VAT Notice 708: Buildings and construction, HMRC, 2014).

Plan Carefully

The finish of your HMO needs to be decided before you start. As Cicero the famous philosopher said “Before beginning, plan carefully.”  You need to be very clear about the type of refurbishment, build or renovation you intend to carry out.

Future Proof

If you can demonstrate an ability to find, finish, fill and future-proof your HMO investment, you will discover that you become a fascination for financiers! Investors across the world are looking for secure, high yielding investments, and HMOs are no exception. I have completed many deals where money has been left in the deal – but it’s not been my money! Giving an investor anything from 7% return upwards is very attractive when banks can only return 1-3% at best. Your track record and ability to systemise and professionalise your business will be the key to creating an investible opportunity. Investors will be fascinated by you, fish for more information from you, and follow you. You therefore need to facilitate a way you can enable a favourable result for you both

Keep Snapping!

Take LOTS of photos and videos of your HMO from the moment you have the keys all the way through until it is ready to let. Don’t hold back!

They are like forensic evidence for the valuer or surveyor which demonstrate the huge amounts of improvement, value and ultimately positive cash flow your HMO represents.

Refurbishment Costs

To fund the refurbishment and finishing costs, predictions need to be made accurately from the start with regard to conversion costs including fire safety and acoustic insulation, the addition of ensuites and room reconfigurations where necessary. Knowing what you need to do to meet all regulations at the start of the project is vital so that you budget for these seemingly invisible yet fundamental aspects of the build.