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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

When a house is let to sharing occupants who are not a family unit, landlords must ensure that the property complies with rules around Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). These rentals are either defined as a standard HMO, or large HMO.

What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

A rented property is considered a House in Multiple Occupation if:

  • at least three tenants live there, forming more than one ‘household’
  • the tenants share toilet, bathroom and/or kitchen facilities

What is a large HMO?

A rented property is considered a large House in Multiple Occupation if:

  • the property is at least three storeys high
  • at least five tenants live there, forming more than one ‘household’
  • the tenants share a toilet, bathroom and/or kitchen facilities

What is a ‘household’?

A household is defined as either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together (including same-sex couples)
  • relatives or half-relatives (eg grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings)
  • step-parents and step-children

What are my responsibilities if I let a HMO?

As well as all your normal legal responsibilities you must ensure:

  • smoke detectors are installed
  • electrics are checked every five years
  • that the property is not overcrowded (there should be a separate room for sleeping for each couple, each single person over 21, and for every two young people aged over 10 years)
  • there are adequate cooking and washing facilities
  • communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair

What are my responsibilities if I let a large HMO?

As well as those responsibilities covered by a standard HMO, you must ensure you have been approved for a HMO licence by your local council. A HMO licence will last for five years and will only be granted if:

  • the property meets an acceptable standard (ie. it is large enough for all occupants and well managed)
  • the property is managed by a ‘fit a proper’ person  (no criminal record or breach of letting legislation)

You must contact your local council to determine whether you need a HMO licence before you let to tenants. If not, you could risk a fine of up to £20,000.