Houses in multiple occupation - HMO

What is an HMO?

An HMO is any house occupied by three or more unrelated persons who form more than one household and share a basic amenity such as a WC or kitchen.

A household may be (i) a single person or (ii) several members of the same family, all related by blood or marriage. For example: a house occupied by a brother, sister and one other unrelated occupant would form two households; three unrelated persons would form three households.

HMO licences

An HMO requires a licence from the council if it is occupied by five or more unrelated persons forming two or more households sharing a basic amenity and is three storeys in height. Licensable HMOs are considered to be high risk.

There is specific legislation that applies to HMOs irrespective of whether they require a HMO licence to operate – these are the HMO management regulations. These regulations give responsibilities to managers of HMOs as well as occupiers.

Licence - homes in multiple occupancy

HMO standards

All HMOs must comply with the HMO management regulations set out in Statutory Instrument 2006 No 372. Officers will also assess the property against the Housing, Health and Safety Rating Scheme and will take the appropriate enforcement action to ensure any deficiencies are rectified.

In general HMOs should have:

  • an adequate means of space heating in each letting and in bathrooms, whether shared or not
  • adequately ventilated kitchens and bathrooms including extractor fans in kitchens
  • suitably located bathrooms, kitchens and WCs of adequate size within the HMO in relation to the lettings
  • all baths, showers, wash hand basins and sinks fitted with taps supplying cold water and a constant supply of hot water
  • adequate number of bathrooms, toilets and wash hand basins for personal washing for the number of persons sharing those facilities and, where reasonably practicable, there must be a wash hand basin with appropriate splash back in each unit
  • adequate size and layout kitchen for the number of sharers containing sinks with draining boards, cooking equipment, worktops, storage cupboards for food and crockery and utensils, fridge/freezers (combined or separate), and electrical sockets
  • adequate refuse disposal facilities
  • adequate fire precautions including fire doors and fire blankets as appropriate

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