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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in UK

What does Houses in Multiple Occupation mean? Houses of multiple occupancy relates to any residential property that gets shared by more than one household.

HMO LEGISLATION: As a rule, HMO residents share ‘common areas‘ within the property.

Do you let your property to several tenants who are not all members from the same family? In this case, you might be letting a ‘House in Multiple Occupation‘.

There is a simple way to determine if your property is a House of Multiple Occupancy. You have an HMO if both of these apply to you:

  • Three or more tenants live inside creating more than one household.
  • They share some common facilities (e.g. bathroom, toilet, or kitchen).

What does a ‘household’ consist of relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation? A household means a single person or several members of the same family living together.

Households include married people and unmarried couples who live together. It also relates to people who cohabit in same-sex relationships.

Houses in Multiple Occupation Licence and Licensing

If you are a landlord renting out a property, you must have an HMO licence if five (5) or more people occupy the property.

Some district councils may include other property types that need HMO licensing. You should contact your local council to confirm whether you need an HMO licence.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System Risk Assessment

The council will carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System risk assessment on your HMO. This occurs within five (5) years of receiving your House in Multiple Occupation licence application.

The house inspector will check for any unacceptable risks during the HHSRS assessment. The landlord must then conduct the appropriate work to eliminate any hazards.

House Share Change of Use

You must report some specific changes to your local council such as if:

  1. You plan to make some structural changes to an HMO.
  2. Your tenants make any changes to the property.
  3. The circumstances of your tenants change (e.g. having a child)

House in Multiple Occupation Licence

Your local council will confirm whether you need a licence to rent out a property as an HMO in England or Wales.

You need a House in Multiple Occupation licence to rent out a large HMO in England or Wales. Properties meet the definition of a large HMO if all these apply:

  • It’s rented out to five (5) or more people who form more than one (1) household.
  • Some, or all, tenants share the bathroom, kitchen, or toilet facilities.
  • At least one of the tenants is paying rent (or paid by their employer).

Note: Renting out a smaller property to fewer people may still require a licence (determined by location).

HMO Licence Restrictions

  • A licence is valid for a maximum of five (5) years.
  • You would need to renew the licence before it expires.
  • You must have a separate licence for each HMO that you run.

HMO Licence Conditions

If you get a House in Multiple Occupation licence you will need to ensure:

  • The property is suitable to house the number of occupants living in it (depending on its size and the facilities).
  • The manager of the house (you as the landlord or an agent) is considered ‘fit and proper’. As a rule, this means having no criminal record or not in breach of landlord laws or code of practice.

Your responsibilities also include:

  • Sending an updated gas safety certificate to the council every year.
  • Installing and maintaining smoke alarms.
  • Providing safety certificates for all electrical appliances (when asked for them).

Note: Regional council authorities can add other conditions to the HMO licence, such as improving the standard of facilities. You can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber – Residential Property) if you disagree with conditions set by the council.

HMO Licence Fines and Penalties

The rules on renting out ‘house share’ properties are strict. Renting out an unlicensed HMO can result in an unlimited fine.

Houses in Multiple Occupation Legislation in the United Kingdom