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 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 page 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 licensed 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 of and detect a fire, or to allow safe egress in the event of a fire, is maintained in full working order. This includes smoke alarms and heat detectors
- 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, 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.