Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
HMO standards and licensing
A property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if the following apply:
- At least three tenants live there, forming more than one household
- The toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities are shared with other occupiers
- At least one of the occupants pays rent (or the accommodation is linked to their employment)
- It is the occupiers' main residence
- It is not an exempt property such as a student hall of residence or owned or managed by the Council, a social landlord or the NHS
A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:
- married or living together - including people in same-sex relationships
- close relatives, e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
- step-parents and step-children
A property is a licensable HMO if (in addition to the above HMO criteria) at least five people live there, forming more than one household, and the HMO is three or more storeys high.
From 1 October 2018, the “three or more storeys” element will no longer apply – the government has changed the criteria for mandatory HMO licensing. From 1 October 2018, it will be compulsory to obtain an HMO licence for:
- HMOs which have five or more occupiers, regardless of number of storeys
- Flats in multiple occupation (if they have five or more occupiers) above or below a business
- Purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied as an HMO
Operating a licensable HMO without a licence is an offence which can be dealt with by a financial penalty or a conviction in court.
The Council does not provide the names and addresses of licence holders in electronic format in the HMO Register. This would contravene a data protection principle in that to do so would be unfair and excessive given the potential for ease of access by a large number of people.
If you wish to inspect the register and be provided with a hard copy, please contact the Environmental Health (Private Housing) Team at email@example.com.
If you know of a property that is offered for rent as a house in multiple occupation that is not on our register, please notify us using our online form.
All managers / owners of HMOs are bound by The Management of House in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006 No. 372).
The Regulations impose duties on a person managing an HMO in respect of:
- providing information to occupiers
- taking safety measures, including fire safety measures
- maintaining the water supply and drainage
- supplying and maintaining gas and electricity, including having it regularly inspected
- maintaining common parts (defined in regulation 7(6)), fixtures, fittings and appliances
- maintaining living accommodation and
- providing waste disposal facilities
The Regulations also impose duties on occupiers of an HMO for the purpose of ensuring that the person managing it can effectively carry out the duties imposed on them by these Regulations.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places duties on the person having control of an HMO to have fire precautions in place, to make sure the property is safe and to carry out fire risk assessments.
Landlords should make sure there are appropriate means of escape and fire detection systems according to the type of property and the way it is used. For example, a house containing individual bedsits each with cooking facilities will require a much higher level of protection than a shared house with a single kitchen. All HMOs are required to meet minimum fire safety standards (LACORS) and amenity standards which are higher than a home occupied by a single family. This is because the risk of fire and the amenities required increase when a home is occupied by a number of sharers who are not living as one family. All private rented properties must be provided with a smoke alarm on each floor to detect a fire.
Landlords must make sure:
- The house is suitable for the number of occupants in terms of size and facilities
- The manager of the house is considered to be a ‘fit and proper’, for example has no criminal record, has not breached housing laws or codes of practice
- To arrange an Annual Gas Safety check by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and obtain an updated gas safety certificate every year
- To arrange an electrical safety check by a qualified electrician at least every five years and obtain an updated Periodic Electrical Installation Condition Report
- To install and maintain smoke alarms on each floor and if necessary in each room (a heat detector in a kitchen)
- To obtain safety certificates for all portable electrical appliances
- To provide sufficient refuse bins accessible to tenants, and written information to all tenants about the proper storage of household waste and recycling material and collection arrangements
Overcrowding in HMOs
The number of people occupying an HMO must not exceed the maximum specified in the licence or in the case of a non-licensable HMO the maximum determined by the sizes of the rooms.
Further information about HMOs: