HMO Bathroom Requirements: Everything you need to know

HMOs are a lucrative option for landlords looking for greater rental yields compared to standard buy-to-lets. However, there are many regulatory measures and legal requirements when it comes to building or refurbishing a property as an HMO investment.

In our article on HMO room size requirements, we break down some of the minimum requirements for kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. However, in this article we will go into a bit more detail on HMO bathroom requirements and how to maximise on your investment through intuitive bathroom design.

What are the legal bathroom requirements for HMOs?

According to the Houses of Multiple Occupancy Regulations 2006, the legal requirements for HMO bathrooms are as follows:

How many bathrooms per occupant?

  • 3 or 4 tenants: 1 toilet which can form part of a bathroom
  • 5+ tenants: 1 toilet with a wash basin in addition to a main bathroom or bathrooms

Other comfort & accessibility requirements

  • All toilets, taps, baths, showers and basins must be fit for purpose
  • Toilets must be in the building and and easily accessible
  • Taps must provide constant cold and hot water
  • Floors must be easy to clean and slip-resistant
  • Those with washing facilities must have adequate heating and ventilation
  • Toilets separate from the main bathroom must have hand basins

Exceeding these requirements is always a good idea wherever possible as it will help to increase demand for your property and attract more potential tenants.

Note that these requirements are directly from the UK Government legislation, and some local councils do have more scrutinous requirements in addition to these, such as amenity standard and minimum dimension requirements for HMO bathrooms. Sandwell Council, for example, has minimum dimensions for each facility.

sandwell council bathroom regulations

We recommend always checking local legislation when researching HMO bathroom requirements, or speaking to an HMO advisor.

Ensuites for HMOs

It isn’t always possible to add ensuites to every bedroom in your HMO. Smaller rooms may become less marketable if adding an ensuite means that storage space is limited or only a single bed will fit.

However, if the bedroom is large enough to accommodate another bathroom, and does not take the bedroom size under the minimum bedroom size requirements, the space should still be used carefully so that tenants have enough room in both the bedroom and ensuite. In addition, if you have ensuite bathrooms attached to some of your bedrooms, you can subtract those occupiers and bathrooms before you calculate how many communal bathrooms you need.

For minimum size, Home Building magazine recommends that simple “cloakrooms” (meaning just a toilet and basin) should be a minimum 800 x 1,400mm (around 1.12m2).

ensuite for hmo

Design tips for HMO bathrooms

Now that we’ve discussed the minimum requirements for HMO bathrooms, it’s good to think about how to better design your bathrooms in order to attract higher-rental potential, particularly if you are looking to create a high-end HMO.

Functional considerations

Effective ventilation

Good ventilation is key to removing odours and moisture, thus preventing mould growth and maintaining air quality. Complying with ventilation standards, such as those stipulated in building codes, involves considering the air changes per hour and the appropriate size of exhaust fans.

This is especially important in HMOs, where multiple occupants use the facilities and poor ventilation will cause tenants to complain about dampness.

Adequate lighting

Proper lighting in an HMO bathroom is crucial for safety and ease of use. It should be bright enough to ensure visibility but not so harsh as to cause discomfort.

Natural light sources, like windows or skylights, can enhance the ambiance, while energy-efficient artificial lighting like LED fixtures can be used to maintain visibility and reduce energy consumption.

Walls & floors

When choosing materials for walls and floors, ensure to choose those that are moisture wicking and easy to clean. This enhances the longevity and hygiene of the space and ultimately will prevent issues down the line after frequent use. When choosing flooring, slip-resistant materials are required so ensure you are taking measures to prevent slips or falls in your HMO bathrooms.

hmo bathroom

Water supply

The bathrooms should have an adequate and consistent flow for flushing and handwashing, with a minimum flow rate as per current standards to ensure hygiene and efficiency.

It’s good to consider the water pressure in the property, particularly for hand basins, and ensure you choose a basin design that is appropriate for the pressure level. High pressure and small basins can sometimes cause issues with water leaking onto the floor, which can be annoying for tenants.

Toilet design

Compliance with recognised standards ensures the toilet not only performs effectively but also meets accessibility and usability requirements. This is crucial in HMO settings where high usage is expected.

In addition, there should be adequate room between the toilet and other bathroom facilities that is considerate of all heights, to facilitate comfortable use. 

It is worth considering pocket doors or making the door open outwards. En-suites are often small in HMO’s because we want as much room for the bedroom as possible. By making the door open outwards or incorporating a pocket door less of the internal en-suite space is used up by the door swing.

Style & comfort considerations

If you are creating a high-end HMO, considering the aesthetic appeal of your bathrooms can make your property more marketable and attract higher-yielding tenants.

Colour choices

For a higher-end appeal, try utilising colour schemes that are not plain white in order to give the room a more luxurious aesthetic. Stone-pattern tiles, for example, can give a more expensive feel to a bathroom space, and opting for black accents instead of white can make your bathroom more appealing to tenants concerned about bathroom design.

Storage design

Consider storage space when it comes to the appeal and practicality of your bathroom designs to maximise the available space. Recessed shelves or cabinets, for instance, can provide essential storage without encroaching on the limited space. There are also some great vanity units which incorporate both the sink and bath and free up more of the available space within the bathroom/en-suite.

Dimmer/Hue lighting

Utlising smart bathroom lighting that allows tenants to change the hue or level of brightness in your bathrooms can make them feel more luxurious and high end. Giving your tenants control over lighting choice is a stylish and appealing bathroom design feature.

Underfloor heating

For high-end bathroom designs, underfloor heating can be a welcome feature in modern bathrooms that adds extra comfort and luxury to bathroom spaces. Particularly in an older property that may not have the best level of insulation, underfloor heating can be a welcome added comfort for tenants desiring high-end HMO living.

hmo bathroom lighting

Accessibility considerations for HMO bathrooms

In some instances, adhering to strict minimums may not be the most comfortable or accessible space. Where possible, we recommend expanding beyond these dimensions, as not only will this help improve the appeal of your HMO for potential tenants, but also cater to those that may have accessibility needs.

Some accessibility considerations include:

  • Door Width: A door width of at least 900mm, with at least 300mm clear space adjacent to the leading edge of the door, is recommended to comfortably accommodate wheelchair users or those requiring additional space for mobility aids.
  • Clearance Space: Around the toilet, a clearance provides space for manoeuvring.
  • Grab Bars: The inclusion of grab bars is not just a regulatory compliance issue but a fundamental aspect of creating a safe and supportive environment. These should be strategically placed to provide stability and support.

Incorporating these elements into the toilet room design ensures a space that is not only compliant with regulations but also genuinely accessible and comfortable for all users.

Creating the perfect HMO bathroom

By considering these design elements, it’s possible to create an HMO bathroom that is not just compliant with minimum requirements but also a visually pleasing and comfortable space for occupants with higher market potential.

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