HMO licensing rules are changing!

HMO licensing is being extended from 1 October 2018. If you rent out, or are intending to rent out, an HMO to five or more people who share facilities, you will need a licence regardless of the number of storeys (floors) in your property.

Visit our House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence page to apply for a licence. 

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is defined as a shared house which is occupied by three or more persons (including children) who form more than one household. Find out about the new HMO licensing rules coming into force on 1 October 2018 and what the responsibilities of an HMO owner are.

What does an HMO include?

HMOs include buildings converted into self-contained flats (which do not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations).

Examples include:

  • a house let as individual bedsits

  • lodgings, and shared houses - three unrelated individuals would form three separate households

  • houses converted into self-contained flats

Please note, the tenancy agreement is not relevant in determining if the house is an HMO. For example: four unrelated tenants under one tenancy agreement still form four separate households.

  • Storeys means the number of floors within the HMO but also includes lower storeys that are used for non-residential purposes (such as a shop). So a two-storey HMO above a shop would be regarded as a three-storey HMO.

  • Occupiers includes all persons in the HMO, both adults and any children residing at the address.

  • Households can be a family, a couple (including same sex couples) or a single person, but all unrelated adults that are not a couple, or part of a family, are treated as separate households. A group of more than two students sharing an address would be considered to be living in an HMO even if they had all signed a joint tenancy

Do I need an HMO licence?

If your HMO has three storeys or more, and is occupied by least five occupiers, forming two or more households, a licence is required, in which case you must apply for a HMO licence.

Most HMOs within our borough must be licensed under the HMO Mandatory Licensing Scheme unless your HMO falls within certain exempted categories.

View online the HMO Public Register.

Owners of HMO properties have additional responsibilities relating to the management of the property. HMO management regulations apply to most properties where there are three or more unrelated occupants.

We have adopted  icon HMO Amenity Standards [72.28KB]  as a guide to what facilities are required in a HMO. We follow LACORS fire safety guidance, which is now available on the CIEH website.

Fire safety can be enforced by us in any domestic property (not only HMOs). Smoke alarms must be installed in all rented accommodation from 1 October 2015. Carbon monoxide alarms are also required where there is a solid fuel appliance. Further fire safety guidance is available from gov.uk.

There is further information about HMOs on gov.uk.

Duties of HMO managers and occupiers

Management Regulations (The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006) apply to all HMOs (whether or not they are licensable).

The regulations impose duties on managers and occupiers of HMOs.

Manager's duties

The manager must:

  • give his or her contact details to the occupiers

  • keep fire escapes in repair and free from obstruction

  • maintain fire-fighting equipment and alarms

  • take reasonable measures to make sure that people living in the HMO are not injured on account of its design and structural condition

  • make sure there is adequate drainage from the HMO and an adequate water supply and the supply is not unreasonably interrupted

  • supply us with annual gas safety certificates (if gas is supplied) when requested

  • carry out safety checks on electrical installations every five years

  • make sure the supply of gas (if any) and electricity is not unreasonably interrupted

  • keep the HMO's common parts (including fixtures and fittings)in repair (including decorative repair) and good order

  • maintain shared gardens and keep in repair any structures belonging to the HMO

  • keep in repair the occupiers' living accommodation in the HMO, including fixtures and fittings

  • provide suitable facilities for the disposal of rubbish.

Occupiers' duties

The occupiers of the HMO must:

  • not hinder or prevent the manager from carrying out his or her duties under the regulations

  • take reasonable care not to damage anything which the manager has a duty to repair, maintain, keep in good order or supply under the regulations

  • dispose of rubbish using the manager's advice

  • follow all reasonable fire safety instructions given by the manager.

Fines for failure to meet duties

If a manager, or occupier, fails to meet any management regulation without a reasonable excuse, they may be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.

The "manager" in these regulations includes the landlord or a person responsible for the management of the HMO.

Before prosecuting, we will normally give you an opportunity to remedy the breach depending on the seriousness of the case, in line with our enforcement policy.