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HMOs could see boost from post-Covid lifestyle changes – Oliver

by: Robert Oliver, sales director at Castle Trust
  • 11/03/2021
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HMOs could see boost from post-Covid lifestyle changes – Oliver
Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) have long been a popular way for landlords to increase their returns, but what impact will the Covid-19 pandemic have of renter demand for shared living space in the future?


The first thing to note is that when it comes to Covid-19, according to government guidance, HMOs are considered no greater risk than a single household.

Habitants are asked to follow the general guidance on staying at home and behave in the same way as a single household if someone has symptoms of coronavirus. The only additional guidance is that it is recommended all shared areas are cleaned regularly and kept well ventilated.

So, as we emerge from the pandemic, it is unlikely HMOs will be tarnished by any particular stigma and there could even be a surge in demand.


Post-Covid demand?

Student accommodation accounts for a lot of HMOs and, with many courses being run remotely at the moment, it’s likely that a lot of people are holding off on going to university until they can fully appreciate the full student experience.

This means pent-up demand for university places when restrictions do start to loosen, and increased demand for HMO accommodation.

In addition, HMOs provide an important form of affordable housing, and affordable housing will be needed by many workers who have suffered unemployment and a drop in income as a result of the financial fallout of the pandemic.

On top of this, while an increase in home working has driven an exodus from cities, when offices do re-open people are likely to be required to attend them, even if just for a couple of days a week.

A space in an HMO could therefore provide a flexible and affordable away for office workers to balance their new lifestyle with commitments in the city.


Upmarket shift

There are signs, therefore, that HMO accommodation will continue to attract renters and there could even be a shift to more upmarket properties if there is an emerging trend for office workers to take on HMO crash pads.

Investors buying a property with the intention of letting it as an HMO will usually need to carry out some work to make the property fit for purpose, and bridge-to-let products could help them to establish a successful investment for the future.

The initial bridging loan can be used to purchase the property and carry out the work, before switching it to a longer-term mortgage when the work has been completed and the building is ready for tenants.

HMOs provide a flexible and affordable form of accommodation that will be key to their ongoing popularity.


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