Houses in Multiple Occupation

The Council needs to keep a register of Houses in Multiple Occupation(HMO) within its district and so will need to inspect all HMO’s for housing standards and fire safety at some point.

What is an House in Multiple Occupation?

The definition of an HMO under Section 254 of the Housing Act 2004 is as follows:

A building or a part of a building meets the “standard test” if—

(a) It consists of one or more units of living accommodation not consisting of a self-contained flat or flats;

(b) The living accommodation is occupied by persons who do not form a single household (see section 258);

(c) The living accommodation is occupied by those persons as their only or main residence or they are to be treated as so occupying it (see section 259);

(d) Their occupation of the living accommodation constitutes the only use of that accommodation;

(e) Rents are payable or other consideration is to be provided in respect of at least one of those persons' occupation of the living accommodation; and

(f) Two or more of the households who occupy the living accommodation share one or more basic amenities or the living accommodation is lacking in one or more basic amenities. (Toilet, personal washing and cooking facilities)

A household is defined as either a single person or members of the same family who are living together.

Other premises may also be classed as HMO’s such as converted blocks of self-contained flats that do not meet the 1991 Building Regulation standards for conversion.

Managing an HMO property

Landlords or Managers of any size HMO must comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, which stipulate the roles and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.

  • Duty of manager to provide (specified) information to occupier (name, address and any telephone contact number are made available to each household in the HMO; and (b) such details are clearly displayed in a prominent position in the HMO)
  • Duty of manager to take (specified) safety measures
  • Duty of manager to maintain water supply and drainage
  • Duty of manager to supply and maintain gas and electricity
  • Duty of manager to maintain common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances
  • Duty of manager to maintain living accommodation
  • Duty to provide waste disposal facilities
  • Duties of occupiers of HMO's

Failure to comply with these Regulations is a prosecutable offence.

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006


HMO licensing

Currently, you must have a licence if you’re renting out a “large” HMO. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:

  • it’s rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
  • it’s at least 3 storeys high
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

This Power Point Questionnaire (HMO determination advice) will help you determine if you need a licence for your HMO property. Failure to licence an HMO that needs licensing is a serious offence and can result in prosecution.

Always seek advice and guidance from Environmental Health if you have any doubts. If approached, we will work pro-actively to bring the property and the Landlord into compliance.

Licences will be granted if:

  • The house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation
  • The applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • Any proposed manager, having control of the house, is a fit and proper person to be the manager
  • The management arrangements are satisfactory
  • A complete application is submitted with all supporting documentary evidence. An incomplete application will be returned to the applicant.

The Council will normally issue a draft licence for the applicant to discuss and make representation on. If after the consultation period there are no objections or requests for alterations, a full 5 year licence will be issued. If a Licence application is refused, an applicant can appeal to a First Tier Property Tribunal. The details of the licence holder will be held on a mandatory public register freely available to the public. The register contains information including the name and address of the Licence Holder, address of the HMO, Number of permitted occupiers/ Households, Licence expiry and reference number.

Licensable HMO's must meet mandatory amenity standards before they can be licenced. 

HMO Inspections

During the period of the licence the premises will be subject to regular inspections based on risk. These will usually be annually but will change depending upon the conditions found at the last inspection. Landlords and HMO Managers are encouraged to present at the time of these inspections. Ad-hoc inspections may occur if complaints are received from HMO residents.

Additional exemptions to HMO licensing

There are some exemptions from Licensing HMO’s that are described in Schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2014

  1. A building where the person managing or having control of it is:
  • A local housing authority,
  • A non-profit registered provider of social housing
  • A body which is registered as a social landlord under Part 1 of the Housing Act 1996 (c. 52),
  • A police and crime commissioner,
  • the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime,
  • A fire and rescue authority, or
  • A health service body within the meaning of section 9 of the National Health Service Act 2006.
  1. A building which is social housing within the meaning of Part 2 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, and where the person managing or having control of it is a profit-making registered provider of social housing
  2. Certain buildings controlled by co-operative societies
  3. Certain student accommodation establishments
  4. Buildings occupied by religious establishments
  5. Buildings where an OWNER shares with a maximum of two other unrelated individuals
  6. Buildings shared by a maximum of two unrelated individuals.

Upcoming changes to HMO Licensing

The Government is planning to extend mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation. At present mandatory HMO licensing is restricted to properties that are three or more storeys, containing five or more people in two or more households with shared facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. Under the new plans the Government intends to make the following changes through secondary legislation:

  • Remove the storey rule so all houses with 5 or more people forming 2 or more households will become mandatory licensable
  • Extend mandatory licensing to flats above and below business premises (regardless of storeys)
  • Set a minimum size of 6.52 sq-m for a single room and 10.23 sq-m in line with the existing overcrowding standard (Housing Act 1985) but allowing the local authority to retain the ability to set a higher standard.
  • Tightening up the ‘fit and proper person’ test for landlords and ensuring criminal record checks are carried out

The Government released a consultation paper in November 2016 regarding the decision to extend mandatory licensing. The consultation was to gather views on the proposed changes and to help ensure that once the legislation is implemented it is clear. 

Where a landlord fails to obtain a licence they could be liable to pay a potentially unlimited fine. It is likely the changes will be implemented in late 2017. Further information can be found at

Extending Mandatory Licensing