Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

HMO standards and licensing

A property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if the following apply:

  • At least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • The toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities are shared with other tenants
  • 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 property is a licensable HMO if (in addition to the above) the following apply:

  • It is at least 3 storeys high (or 2 storeys above a commercial unit)
  • At least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household/family

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

Further information about HMOs:

HMO standards

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.

Report overcrowding in a HMO.

HMO licences

Large HMOs must have a licence and operating an unlicensed HMO is an offence which can be dealt with by a financial penalty or a conviction in court.

Apply for a HMO licence.

View our register of currently licensed houses in multiple occupation.  

If you know of a property that is offered for rent as a house in multiple occupation that is not on our register, email privatehousing@wandsworth.gov.uk.

Pages in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)