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Guidance for Managing Agents and Letting Agents

For Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)


  • Fire safety and amenities in HMO properties
  • Landlord and tenant responsibilities

Colchester has a thriving private rented sector and this is set to grow over the next few years as the demand for private rented housing increases. One of the biggest growth areas in Colchester's private rented market is Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Colchester Borough Council recognises the important contribution good quality HMOs make in the provision of affordable housing for Colchester residents. We want to make sure that tenants in HMOs live in safe and healthy homes by providing advice to both landlords and tenants and where appropriate enforcing the relevant provisions of the Housing Acts.

We know there are responsible landlords in Colchester who manage good quality private rented properties themselves. A large number of landlords use managing agents and we want to support landlords to do this by:

  • Advising and encouraging landlords to improve the standard and maintenance of their properties
  • Making sure that managing agents and letting agents have the right information so that the properties they let or manage meet the standards set
  • Providing Information and guidance on housing law
  • Making tenants aware of their responsibilities and how they should be met

Managing agents and letting agents are responsible for ensuring that any HMOs they deal with are safe, decent and comply with the law and that the landlords they work for know their obligations and the law.

How the Private Sector Housing Team can help

We want to help make the process of letting or managing a HMO as smooth and efficient as possible. The Private Sector Housing Team has produced a guide for letting agents and managing agents to help in the provision of HMOs which contribute to a safe and healthy environment. This guidance has national and regional support from the National Landlords Association, Residential Landlords Association, Eastern Landlords Association and the Association of Residential Letting Agents. It explains:

  • More about HMOs
  • What responsibilities you have when managing HMOs (whether they are licensed or not)
  • The standards Colchester Borough Council expect to see in HMOs
  • How Colchester Borough Council can help you to reach and maintain the standards required
  • Introduces the standards specific to these properties over and above those expected of normal rented dwellings

Download Examples of Fire Safety and Amenities in HMO Properties

Download the HMO Accommodation leaflet which gives details of landlord and tenant responsibilities

Download What is an HMO leaflet

These standards have been designed to assist landlords and developers to improve and maintain HMOs to a reasonable level. There is considerable diversity in the way that HMOs are occupied and in the health and safety risks that may be present. Therefore the guidance suggests standards that are appropriate for a wide range of the most common types of HMO. These standards are flexible and can be adapted to suit different circumstances in consultation with the Private Sector Housing Team. They cover both licensed and non-licensable HMOs.

The guide will give you the information you need to ensure that you can inspect and see if they comply with current legislation, regulations and guidance. However, if you feel that they do not, then please contact the Private Sector Housing Team and we will assist by giving you the correct advice and legal guidance so that you can meet your responsibilities and be sure that all your HMOs are safe and decent to live in.

Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities in the Private Rented Sector

A document has been produced and is available here to help both landlords and tenants. It sets out the roles and responsibilities of both parties when letting or renting a property in the private rented sector.

How to contact us

For further information and guidance you can contact the Private Sector Housing team via Colchester Borough Council's Customer Services based at the Library and Community Hub, Trinity Square, Colchester. The offices are open 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Fill In and submit our Private Sector Housing Advice/Complaint Form

Private Sector Housing Advice/Complaint Form

Email us at: 

Telephone us on 01206 282581  Textphone users should dial 18001 01206 282581