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What is a 'House in Multiple Occupation'?

Landlords may need a licence to let a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) - a rented property with shared facilities. Landlords must also maintain good housing conditions, otherwise tenants can complain to the local council.   Find out about below about what constitutes a HMO, which HMO’s need a license, how to apply, and general rules for HMO properties.

What is a HMO

A property is a HMO if it is let as a main or only home to at least three tenants, who form more than one household and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.  A household consists of either a single person or members of the same family who live together, including:

·       people who are married or living together

·       people in same-sex relationships

·       relatives who are living together - including step-children, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins and foster children

·       certain live-in domestic staff such as au pairs, nannies, nurses or other carers, gardeners, chauffeurs, servants (if certain conditions are met)

These properties can be an entire house, flats or converted building or any of the following:

·       bedsits

·       shared houses

·       households with a lodger

·       purpose-built HMOs

·       hostels

·       guesthouses - if rented out of season

·       bed and breakfasts providing accommodation for homeless people

·       some types of self-contained flats converted from houses

Examples of a HMO:

·            Four students renting the whole house

·            Three friends renting the whole house

·            Five working people who have their own room and individual tenancy

Does an HMO need a licence?

Most HMO’s will not need a licence, however, it is mandatory for certain larger HMO’s to have a licence if they are:

·       of three or more storeys


·       occupied by five or more persons who form more than one household

Examples of a HMO that needs a licence, let to 5 or more unrelated people:

·            A semi detached house with two floors and also a loft conversion

·            A terraced house with two floors and also a habitable cellar

·            A new build property with three or more floors

Landlords must apply for a HMO licence if one is required, and meet the terms and conditions of the licence.  Follow this link on how to apply for a licence for an HMO

Tenants can contact the council to see if their property needs to be licensed

Landlord responsibilities for health and safety in HMO’s

Landlords must make sure that the HMO is properly maintained and meets health and safety requirements at all times. Landlords must:

·       give their contact details to the tenants.  The contact details should also be posted in a prominent position in the property, especially emergency contact numbers

·       keep fire escapes clear and maintain fire fighting equipment and alarms

·       ensure that the property design and structure will not cause any injury

·       provide adequate, uninterrupted water supply and drainage

·       provide adequate supply of gas (if any) and electricity

·       check annual gas safety certification (if gas is supplied) and electricity safety every five years.  This should be done by a contractor who is a member of a 'competent person' scheme

·       keep the property and any shared gardens in good repair

·       provide suitable rubbish disposal

The council performs pro-active inspections of HMO’s and also inspects properties following a complaint from a tenant.  You must carry out any items of disrepair that are required as the result of an inspection.

Fire Safety in all HMO’s

Fire safety measures are now required in ALL HMO's (whether they need a Licence or not) and the council recommends that you work towards meeting the guidance  'A guide to Fire & Security Protection in Multi-Occupied Residential Properties' which is produced by the Homestamp consortium.  Please see the Related Documents section below or by following the relevant web links.  You may also need to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Landlord obligations

You must meet the required standards for tenancy agreements, ending tenancies, protecting tenants' deposits and respecting a tenant's rights.

Tenancy agreements

Landlords must provide clear written tenancy agreements, which includes:

·       providing tenants with a rent book which gives the landlords name and address,

·       the nature of the tenancy

·       the amount of rent to be paid

·       water and sewerage charges

·       other utility bills

·       arrangements for access and procedures for carrying out repairs

·       keeping pets

Landlords may need to decide which type of tenancy agreement to use in Shared Properties but please be aware that this does not affect the definition of what constitutes a HMO.  Follow this link for advice on what type of tenancy to use

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

If a property is let under an assured shorthold tenancy, the landlord must protect any tenant's deposit using one of the three government-approved tenancy deposit schemes. Tenants need to be told how their deposits are protected within 14 days of payment of the deposit

When a tenancy ends, the deposit must be returned to the tenant unless the landlord beleives that the tenant owes them money, for example because of unpaid rent or damage the tenant has caused to the property. In those circumstances landlords and tenants should try to agree how much deposit will be returned to the tenant.

Ending a tenancy

In order to legally remove a tenant, a landlord must follow the correct legal procedures for the type of tenancy in place.  Advice on gaining possession of a tenancy can be found by following the link

For advice on what may constitute illegal eviction or harassment, please follow the link

Other obligations of a landlord

Landlords also have other obligations, including:

·       providing tenants with a written statement of your name and address, within 21 days of being asked for this

·       giving tenants 24 hours' written notice that you intend to enter the property to inspect its condition

Landlords may be penalised by the local authority if they do not meet their obligations.  Tenants may have a case to claim harassment in certain cases

Visit the Communities & Local Government web link for more detailed information.   Alternatively, please contact  the Housing Services team on 01782 742543

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