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Houses in Multiple Occupation

Guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities in the private and social rented sectors in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities

In line with Government guidance we will not be carrying out routine visits at this time. However, we can still offer advice by telephone or e-mail and are contactable through the online forms.

A property is Housing of Multiple Occupation (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.

Properties can be an entire house, flats or converted buildings 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 HMOs:-

  • four students renting the whole house
  • three friends renting the whole house
  • five working people who have their own room and individual tenancies.

Does a HMO need a licence?

A HMO must be licenced if it is occupied by five or more persons who form more than one household.

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

Landlord responsibilities for health and safety in HMOs

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.

We carry out pro-active inspections of HMOs and also inspect properties following a complaint from a tenant.

Fire safety in all HMOs

Fire safety measures are now required in all HMOs (whether they need a licence or not) and we recommend that you work towards meeting the guidance  'A Guide to Fire and Security Protection in Multi-Occupied Residential Properties' (external link) which is produced by the Homestamp consortium.    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.

Visit the Communities and Local Government website for more detailed information, or contact the Council's housing services team on 01782 717717.

Last updated 11 May 2021

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