Last edited 09 Aug 2017

House in multiple occupation

According to gov.uk, a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is:

… a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (eg a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

An HMO is defined as ‘large’ if:

  • It is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household.
  • It is at least 3 storeys high.
  • Tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.

Landlords must have a licence from the local authority if they are renting out a large HMO. A licence is valid for up to 5 years. Unlimited fines can be imposed where an HMO is not licensed.

Landlords must:

  • Ensure the house is suitable for the number of occupants (size and facilities).
  • Ensure the manager of the house is considered to be ‘fit and proper’ (ie there is no criminal record, or breach of landlord laws or code of practice).
  • Send the council an updated gas safety certificate every year.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms.
  • Provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested.

The council may add other conditions when they consider an application. If landlords disagree with any conditions they can appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

Smaller HMO’s may still need a licence depending on the area. This is typically required where the local authority considers that a significant proportion of a landlord's or manager's HMO's are being poorly managed. Landlords should check with the local authority.

HMO’s (described as ‘houses in multiple paying occupation’) fall within the Sui generis planning use class. ‘Sui generis’ buildings are those that do not fall within any particular use class. The Latin term 'sui generis' means ‘of its own kind’. See sui generis for more information.

Minimum room sizes and other restrictions apply to HMO’s. See Minimum room size for more information.

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