A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property occupied by three or more persons from two or more households.

A household could be a family, cohabiting couple or a separate individual.  A household could be a single person or persons related to each other.

The definition of an HMO is technically complex. As well as multiple people sharing a house, an HMO can also be a building converted entirely into self-contained flats. provides a useful summary of HMOs. 

HMOs are subject to higher standards of safety and management than typical family homes, and if you rent out a property as an HMO which has 5 or more occupants, you may have to apply to the Council for a licence.

What is an HMO?

The following examples are likely to be classed as HMOs, and additional legal requirements will apply:

  • an entire house or flat let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom, or toilet, these are typically shared houses or bedsits
  • a converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self-contained (meaning that the flat does not contain a kitchen, bathroom, or toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households
  • a building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and less than two-thirds are owner occupied.

There are a number of exemptions to this. Please refer to the Housing Act 2004 – Schedule 14 or contact us for further information.

HMO standards and Regulations

HMOs are higher risk than typical family homes, and therefore require higher standards; licensable HMOs require even higher standards. See our HMO Licensing pages for more details.

Fire Safety: 


Any owner or manager of an HMO must also make sure it is well managed and comply with management regulations.

The Management Regulations include: 

  • shared facilities (kitchen, bathrooms and toilets) and all common areas, such as hallways, lobbies and porches, being clean, safe and in good repair
    ensuring rubbish is handled properly
  • ensuring any yard or garden is kept clear of accumulations of refuse, is tidy and not overgrown
  • ensuring any fences or walls provided to boundaries of the property are maintained and kept in reasonable repair
  • for all fixtures, fittings and appliances provided by the landlord, to keep these in clean, safe and good working order
  • keeping all means of escape in case of a fire free from any obstructions and that all equipment provided to warn and detect of a fire, which includes smoke alarms and heat detectors, or to allow safe egress in the event of a fire is maintained in full working order
  • ensure the water supply and drainage is all kept in a good, clean working order
  • keeping contact details (name, address and telephone number) for the manager on display in the HMO

Where a landlord does not follow the HMO Management Regulations then the Council will consider prosecution or issue a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000 per offence.


All HMOs must be free from significant health and safety hazards, which are outlined on our Housing Standards page.

Last reviewed: March 27, 2023 by Adam

Next review due: September 27, 2023

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