Houses In Multiple Occupation - The Landlords Guide

Houses in multiple occupation, or HMOs, are a common form of rental property in the UK. As a landlord or someone who is interested in converting a property into a HMO, do you understand your responsibilities? 

Party Table

What is an HMO?

Your property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:

- at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household

- you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

Your home is a large HMO if both of the following apply:

- at least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household

- you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

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

- married or living together - including people in same-sex relationships

- relatives or half-relatives, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings

- step-parents and step-children

Visit the Government for more information - click here.



Do I Need an HMO Licence?

All larger HMOs must have a licence. If you have 5 or more unrelated tenants which share tenant facilities, you must apply for an HMO licence. Before 1st October 2018, there was an extra requirement for a property to be classed as a large HMO, it needed to have three storeys. This has now been dropped.

If you want to rent out your property as a house in multiple occupation in England or Wales, you must contact your council to check if you need a licence. A licence is valid for a maximum of 5 years and you will need a separate licence for each HMO that you run.

You could get an unlimited fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO. If as a tenant your landlord has been convicted of operating without a licence, tenants can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order to reclaim the rent that they have paid for a maximum of 12 months.

For landlords in Bournemouth, please check out their website – click here.



Additional Legal Responsibilities:

If you live in a HMO, your landlord usually will have extra legal responsibilities. These extra rules are in place to reduce the risk of fires and to ensure that people living in the shared accommodation have adequate facilities.


All HMOs are subject to legislation about how they are managed.

- Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006

- Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007


This legislation places certain duties on the individuals managing the property. The duties include the following:


Manager Information:

To provide all occupiers with the manager's name, address and telephone number, this information must be clearly displayed within in the property


Fire Escapes:

To ensure that all fire escapes are clear of any obstacles and that they are kept in good order, to ensure that all fire safety measures are maintained in good working order and that adequate fire safety measures are in place with regards to the design, structural conditions and number of occupiers in the HMO



The manager must maintain adequate water supply and drainage to the dwelling


Electric and Gas Supply:

The manager must not unreasonably cause the electric and gas supply to be interrupted



The manager must ensure that every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested by a suitably qualified person, at intervals not exceeding five years


Electric and Gas Certificates:

The manager must provide the electrical and gas inspection certificates within seven days of receiving a request of writing from the local housing authority


Common Parts:

To ensure that all common parts of the HMO are maintained in good decorative order, and safe and working condition. This includes out-buildings, boundaries and gardens


Maintain Living Accommodation:

The manager must ensure each unit of living accommodation and its contents are clean before occupiers move in and are maintained in good repair and clean working order throughout the occupation by the tenant


Waste Disposal Facilities:

The manager must provide adequate facilities to dispose of all waste produced by the property

-  Conduct himself in a way that will not hinder or frustrate the manager in the performance of his duties;

- Allow the manager, for any purpose connected with the carrying out of any duty imposed on him by these Regulations, at all reasonable times to enter any living accommodation or other  place occupied by that person

- Provide the manager, at his request, with any such information as he may reasonably require for the purpose of carrying out any such duty;

- Take reasonable care to avoid causing damage to anything which the manager is under a duty to supply, maintain or repair under these Regulation

-  Store and dispose of litter in accordance with the arrangements made by the manager under regulation 9; and

-  Comply with the reasonable instructions of the manager in respect of any means of escape from fire, the prevention of fire and the use of fire equipment.



National Minimum Room Size:

From 1st October 2018, the local authority must impose conditions relating to the minimum room size. Any room which does not meet the minimum requirement must not be allowed to be used as sleeping accommodation.

6.51 square metres for an adult
10.22 square metres for two adults
4.64 square metres for a child under 10 years old

Some councils may set higher standards for bedroom sizes.

Where a breach is found to exist, the local authorities must give the licence holder a maximum of 18 months to rectify the breach.

Click here for more information.