Multiple occupancy homes

Houses in multiple occupation - (HMO)

Information on houses in multiple occupation can also be found in the private housing area of the website.

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A House in Multiple Occupation is defined under sections 254 and 257 of the Housing Act 2004.  An HMO can be a building or part of a building if it is:

  • Occupied by persons who form more than one household, and where those person share (or lack) one or more basic amenities, such as a WC, personal washing and cooking facilities; or
  • A converted building containing one or more units of accommodation that do not consist entirely of self-contained flats.  There is no requirement that the occupiers share facilities; or
  • A converted building consisting entirely of self-contained flats, where the building work undertaken in connection with the conversion did not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations, and more than one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies.

The following types of property will be considered as HMOs:

  • Shared houses, for example, a house shared by a group of friends, students or individuals unknown to each other where there is some sharing of amenities or an amenity is lacking
  • A house divided into individual bedsits, for example, each bedsit may have its own cooking facilities, but the bathroom is shared.
  • A flat in multiple occupation, for example, a converted or a purpose built flat which is occupied by two friends and they share a kitchen and a bathroom. The rest of the building may contain flats in single occupation.
  • Partial conversions, for example, floor by floor lets, where each floor of a house may be let separately and be provided with cooking and bathroom facilities, but the building has not been fully converted or separated into individual flats, each with its own entrance. Their may or may not be other fully converted flats in the building.
  • Fully self-contained flats which do not meet the 1991 Building Regulations standard.

The HMO must be occupied by more than one household:

  • As their only or main residence; or
  • As a refuge by persons escaping domestic refuge; or
  • During term time by students; or
  • For some other purpose that is described in regulations.

In all cases:

  • Occupation of the living accommodation must be the only use of that accommodation; and
  • Rents are payable or other considerations are provided.

A single household

Section 258 of the Housing Act 2004 specifies when persons are to be regarded as not forming a single household.

To count as a single household, persons must be members of the same family. This includes:

  • Married couples, or those living as husband and wife, including those in an equivalent same sex relationship; or
  • One of them is a relative of the other.

'Relative' includes parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece or cousin, and half relatives, stepchildren and foster children.

A single household also includes any domestic staff if they are living rent-free in accommodation provided by their employer.

Exemptions from the HMO definition

Certain types of buildings will not be defined as HMOs for the purpose of the Housing Act 2004, other than Part One (Health Housing Safety Rating System) and are, therefore, not subject to licensing. These include:

  • Buildings, or parts of buildings, occupied by no more than two households each of which comprise a single person (i.e. two person flat shares').
  • Buildings occupied by a resident landlord with up to 2 lodgers.
  • Buildings managed or owned by a public body (such as the police or the NHS) or an LHA or a Registered Social Landlord.
  • Buildings where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the principal use of the building e.g. religious establishments, conference centres etc.
  • Student halls of residence, where the education establishment has signed up to an Approved Code of Practice.
  • Buildings regulated otherwise than under the Act, such as care homes, bail hostels etc, and the description of which are specified in regulations.
  • Buildings entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders.

HMO Management Regulations

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply to all HMOs except s257 HMO. These have their own set of Regulations (The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions)(England) Regulations 2007. These impose duties on managers (with some requirements on occupiers) to ensure that good conditions are maintained.