Bins, washing and muddy footprints: the less sexy bits of HMO management


By now, you’re likely aware that Mike and I are fairly transparent when it comes to sharing details of our projects. Why then have we never before published the images below, which have been so crucial to the success of our HMOs? They simply aren’t sexy enough. Nobody wants to see a photo of my bin (that’s not a euphemism). Yet, on our open days we get so many questions about these parts of the house, I thought it was time to shine a light on them.

Getting tenants to recycle

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink and the same goes for tenants and recycling. For whatever reason, tenants just don’t seem to like it. Unless you make recycling even easier than putting rubbish in a bin, they won’t do it.

When designing HMOs, discussions about the location of bins are given equal priority to those about where we should place the sink. We leave sufficient space for recycling bins as well as the normal bin and ensure there is wall space for a recycling poster.

Stackable bins

We are currently using these stackable bins from Ikea which are cheap, come in two different sizes and are perfect for storing and conserving space.

Avoiding muddy footprints

There’s nothing worse than muddy footprints traipsed across freshly swept floors. Unfortunately, caught up in the rush of everyday life many tenants are averse to wiping their feet. Our solution was to make wiping feet unavoidable.

Coir matting

We put as much coir matting down as possible at all entrances to our properties. Tenants have no choice but to wipe their feet every time they come in, keeping the floors cleaner for longer.

What information to put on noticeboards

We always ensure there’s space for a large noticeboard in our properties. We display both notices that are legal requirements and other information that isn’t a legal requirement but is still essential.


The legal requirements:

Gas safety certificate

HMO license (where applicable)

PRS certificate

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Building Regulations Compliance Certificate

The essential:

A bin schedule (printed by the council)

Wi-Fi code

Metre locations

Contact details (ours, emergency, gas)

Lost keys/locked out policy

House rules

Cleaning record

Where to put washing machines

Nothing is more frustrating than bringing a prospective tenant into the kitchen and being greeted with a pile of dirty socks in front of the washing machine, below a pile of dirty dishes stacked next to the sink.

Utility Room

In order to avoid this scenario, I now do everything possible to avoid putting washing machines in the kitchen. In our larger commercial conversions we usually try to include a plant or utility room that houses the boiler, tanks it we’re using them, as well as washing machines and tumble dryers. Often in our smaller properties this option isn’t possible. Instead, we’ll try and find space to fit a cupboard and stack the washer and dryer in that.

Allocating food storage space

Each tenant in our HMOs has a minimum of one shelf per fridge and one drawer per freezer. They are also given at least one full cupboard. We pre-allocate and label these spaces before tenants move in.


It may seem like we’re micromanaging tenants, but in reality it’s about making our lives easier when tenants move out, inevitably at different times. Trying to clear out a former tenants foodstuffs is nigh on impossible when they’re scattered around the fridge and in different cupboards. Allocating spaces and labelling them in advance makes life much easier when a tenant leaves.


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