Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

HMOs are defined in section 254 of the Housing Act 2004, as a house or flat let to 3 or more tenants, who form 2 or more households, and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

Also included are some buildings entirely converted into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations.

Not all HMOs require a licence. Currently, HMOs with 5 or more occupants in 2 or more households require a licence under the Housing Act 2004. In some other districts other properties also require a licence under additional or selective licensing.

Our Guide to HMOs [5MB] gives further information on HMO's and the standards required. More details on the amenities we expect are found in our Amenity Standards (2018).

For further explanations of HMO's and licencing under the Housing Act (2004) visit the GOV.UK website or Shelter.

HMO Management Regulations

These are Regulations set as secondary legislation from the Housing Act. They impose duties on the person managing a house in respect of the repair, maintenance, cleanliness and good order of the house and facilities and equipment in it and set out what occupiers must do with a view to assisting managers to undertake their duties.

Both the landlord and the occupiers of an HMO must comply with these regulations. It is an offence to fail to comply with the management regulations and landlords or tenants can be prosecuted or be fined.

  • The 2006 HMO regulations apply to HMOs except certain buildings converted to self contained flats
  • The 2007 HMO regulations apply to “s257” HMO’s (certain buildings converted to self contained flats).

HMO Licensing

Landlords currently need an HMO licence in most cases if a property has five or more occupants forming more than one household.

It is an offence to fail to license an HMO, and landlords can be prosecuted and can face an unlimited fine for failing to licence.

Further details on how to apply, renew or make a change to your licence can be found on our Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence page.

Fire Safety

Fire safety is a major concern in HMOs because research has shown that fires are more likely to start and spread than in single family dwellings. The council may require additional fire safety measures to be installed in HMOs and will have regard to the guidance on the following Government website before making any requirements of a landlord.

Even in single family dwellings there is now a minimum requirement to have a mains operated smoke detector in the hallway/landing of each storey of any dwelling that is rented out. There must also be a Carbon Monoxide detector in each room that has a solid fuel burning appliance such as an open coal fire.

Planning Permission

Under the Town and Country (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) various "Use Classes" are defined. Use Class C4 relates to "small" HMOs i.e. those with up to six residents, and Use Class C3 relates to dwelling houses. There is a permitted change from a dwelling house C3 use, to a small HMO C4 use and vice versa but larger HMOs are classified as sui Generis and there is no permitted change from a C3 to a large HMO without applying for planning permission.

Any planning application must be made to the Planning Department and will require the payment of a fee.

Further information can be found on our A Guide to the Planning Service page.