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Installing the Right Locks on bedroom doors in shared & hmo houses

When you're the landlord of a house of multiple occupation (HMO), there are typically a lot of things you need to focus on.

From fire regulations to each invidual tenancy agreement, operating a rental property or student house comes with its challenges.

HMO regulations need to be adhered to

HMO regulations are there to protect tenants, with your local hmo enforcement officer often carrying out spot checks to ensure compliance.

Renting out a shared house in this way is a big subject, however, here we're going to be looking at one part of the equation - the door locks you should be using for the property's internal doors.

So, What Exactly is a House in Multiple Occupation?

hmo housing

Essentially, house in multiple occupation or HMO is a term used in the UK to refer to properties that contain more than one household with a communal area.

Typically subdivided from a larger house, each area (or room) - whether on the ground floor or otherwise - will have it's own locks, with each door lock having a unique key.

Multiple Occupancy Households Often Involve Joint Tenancy

The responsiblity of the landlord covers the entire house, with all smoke detectors, gas appliances needing to be maintained and periodically checked for safety.

You're also legally required to ensure fire regs are adhered to, as fire safety is of particular importance, meaning fire doors and fire escape routes must be provided.

The fitness for habitation act 2018

Essentially, under the Fitness for Habitation Act 2018, UK tenants of HMOs have the same right as every other type of tenant.

That means they have an equal right as other tenants to expect a rental property to be safe and secure - leading us neatly to the subject of door locks.

Finding the Right Door Locks For HMOs

types of door locks

First and foremost, it's important to understand that differnt types of door locks are needed for HMOs or shared student housing.

Let's start by looking at the first point of consideration - the property's main doors, namely the front door. We'll get onto the main subject - internal door locks - in a moment, but it's first important to get the right door locks for your external doors.

2-way Keyed Locks Are a No-No for HMO Front doors

Of course, your insurance company will want you to have a secure front door, however, it can't be a door lock that can be operated with a key from both sides.

If you do, there's a very good chance you'll spend a lot of time driving to the property to let in locked-out tenants with your master keys.

fire regulations also play a part

For reasons of fire safety, you should be installing an option without internal key locks, such as a rim cylinder night latch with a turn knob inside.

Door locks with this design ensure that the front door on the ground floor automatically closes behind people and people can get out without a key in the event of a fire.

What's the Best External Door Lock to Use For an HMO?

The door locks you choose will depend on the type of door you have. Let's see how differing materials affect what's needed.

Metal or Wooden Doors

5 lever mortice lock

If you want to keep your insurance company happy, any external wooden doors on your rental property need to be fitted with a BS8621-approved 5-lever mortice lock that's operated by a thumb turn from inside.

Why? Well, when a mortice door lock carries the British Kite Mark, it's been tested against the most common burglary techniques, like picking & bumping.

uPVC or Composite Doors

euro cylinder lock

If you have either uPVC or composite doors on your shared house, it will usually have a multi-point locking system fitted with a Eurocylinder lock.

These types of door locks offer key entry from outside, but thumb turn locks inside, meaning they should already adhere to shared house guidelines.

Checking Each External Door's Hinges is Also Wise

Burglars often target external door hinges as a weakpoint, so if you want to be sure, you should check that all your external door hinges are strong, sturdy and secured firmly with long screws.

An added security feature that works to deter burglars from targeting your door hinges comes in the form of hinge bolts.

Security Glass Film Can Also Add Resilience

security glass film

Should your external doors feature glass panels, they may look great, but they present a vulnerability that can be targeted by criminals.

If you don't already have security glass fitted, you can choose the low-cost optoin of adding security film or go the whole hog and replace your existing glazing with 6.4 mm laminated glass.

What About Bedroom Doors?

external bedroom lock

Whether your HMO tenants have a joint tenancy or each person has their own individual tenancy agreement, tenants have a right to privacy.

As such, when they're in their own room, each bedroom door needs also to be fitted with rim cylinder night latch locks - although in some shared student accomodation, you may have to ask for permission to fit bedroom door locks.

Security needs to be assured as part of the tenancy agreement

Typically, a multiple occupancy HMO where everyone has their own agreement will have access to shared areas, which include:

  • a communal kitchen

  • a shared lounge/entertainment area

  • Refuse/storage areas

  • garden spaces

What also needs to be considered in the kitchen area is a requirement to keep food safe and secure from other tenants. As such, you can allocated certain kitchen cupboards, with the tenant securing it with a padlock sourced at their own expense.

What About Bathroom Internal Doors?

bathroom internal door lock

HMOs will typically have shared bathrooms, meaning that door hardware is needed to give tenants the kind of privacy the room demands.

As such, the setup will usually be very similar to a non-HMO rental property bathroom, although you might want to go for a slightly sturdier bathroom latch and thumbturn combination.

...and Ground Floor Windows?

ground floor windows with a lock

Windows obviously also present a security risk on the bottom floor, which is why you need to put window locks on windows at this level. The same goes for any first floor windows that can be easily accessed by a nearby flat or balcony.

At least one window lock needs to be fitted per window, unless it happens to be a designated fire esacpe. That said, most uPVC windows will have factory-fitted locks that meet the required standard.

Each tenant needs window keys for their own room

What shouldn't be forgotten is that every tenant needs to be supplied with at least one window key for their own room if window locks are fitted.

Moreover, they should be advised to keep bottom floor windows locked at all times when they're not there. BS7950 windows also offer enhanced security, although this aspect is typically optional.

Keeping Your HMO Rental Property Compliant, Secure & Safe

As we can see, securing your HMO or shared house secure is important, but then again, so is staying compliant with regulations and safety - whether talking about each bedroom door or your property's external doors.

If you're looking for a cost-effective way to enhance the safety or security of your HMO property, please take a moment to browse through the Hiatt online store.

It's packed with a huge range of internal and external door locks, hinges, escutcheons, letterboxes and more.

We trust that reading our blog has provided a little more clarity on the subject of the locks needed for internal bedroom doors, as well as doors that secure the exterior of your property.

Be sure to check in with us soon for more DIY hints, tips, advice and guidance from the home of top-quality, affordable door hardware.