Houses in Multiple Occupation

Information about Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

An HMO is a house or flat that is occupied as a main residence, by more than one household, where occupiers share facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and WCs.

This would include, for example, houses containing bedsits, a combination of bedsits and self-contained flats where the bedsits share facilities, and also shared houses and hostels. 

Houses entirely converted into self-contained flats, not in strict compliance with the Building Regulations 1991, with at least one third occupied as flats on short tenancies is also classed as a HMO. 


Which types of HMO need a licence?

HMO’s comprising two or more storey's, occupied by five or more people, in two or more households, must obtain a licence. This is a mandatory requirement of the government. 

If you are unsure of the status of your property, please contact the Environmental Protection via 

If you need to apply for a Licence, please contact the Environmental Protection Team who can provide a copy of the application form and advise of the fee payable. The fee is to cover the application process, inspection and licensing the property. 

Non-Licensable HMO’s

A non-Licensable HMO is when a property has 3 or 4 tenants from more than one household and the tenants share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom. This does not require a HMO Licence.  

If the HMO contains 5 or more tenants in the property, the property must have a HMO Licence from the Council and you would need to apply immediately. 

Landlords of non-Licensable HMO's are urged to follow counsel given in the Space and Amenity Standards as a code of good practice. This is to reduce the chance of any contraventions being made under Section 234 of the Housing Act 2004.  

Any HMOs that are not Licensable should follow the Management Regulations and Fire Safety Regulations. 

Are any properties exempt?

Certain types of property are exempt from licensing, and these are: 

  • Local authority-owned properties, whether freehold or leasehold 
  • Properties owned or managed by public bodies, such as registered social landlords, Health Service bodies or police authorities, and properties regulated by other legislation, for instance care homes, children's homes and bail houses.

Should you require further information please contact the Environmental Protection Team. 

Practice and Guidance for Landlords and Managers

General best practice and guidance for landlords and managers of a house in multiple occupation can be found using the links below: 

Will my premises be inspected or assessed?

Yes. An officer will carry out an inspection of the property with you, which will include: 

  • state of repair 
  • provision of amenities 
  • level of occupation 
  • state of management 
  • fire safety measures 
  • the presence of any hazards under the health and safety rating system (HHSRS). 

Penalties for not having the correct licence

If you fail to apply for a licence, you risk receiving an unlimited fine upon prosecution and being given a criminal record, or receiving a civil penalty of up to £30,000 per offence. In addition you may be banned from running a rental property. 

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