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. Gov.uk 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.
- All HMOs require fire precautions. Fire precautions should follow the Principles of the Housing – Fire Safety guidance published by LACORS
- Most HMOs require a fire risk assessment. Devon and Somerset Fire Service provide guidance on how to do this. All Licenced HMOs require a fire risk assessment as do all HMOs with common parts.
Any owner or manager of an HMO must also make sure it is well managed and comply with management regulations.
- Management Regulations for HMOs (with shared facilities)
- Management Regulations for HMOs converted into self-contained flats
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.