Houses - Multiple Occupancy (HMO)

Your home 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 that must be inspected and obtain a mandatory licence from the Local Authority, if all of the following apply:

  • it’s at least 3 storeys high
  • 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, eg grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step-parents and step-children

The Council has adopted standards of fitness and management for HMOs which are designed to help reduce the risk of fire and to make sure that people living in shared houses or flats have decent facilities.  Extra responsibilities for HMO landlords include taking into account:

  • general management of the property
  • standards relating to escape routes in case there is a fire
  • appropriate  fire safety measures are in place – for licensed HMOs additional and appropriate fire detection and alarm systems  must be installed
  • annual gas safety checks are carried out
  • electrics are checked every 5 years
  • the property is not overcrowded
  • there are adequate and suitably sited toilet and bathing facilities
  • there are adequate food storage, preparation and cooking facilities
  • communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair

All gas installations and appliances MUST be safety checked and maintained annually by a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered installer, and the installation must meet the requirements of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.  

The Gas Safe Register provides details of qualified and registered gas engineers.  This information can also be gained by calling 0800 4085500 and you can keep up to date with Gas Safe information by following them on Facebook and Twitter  

The UK Health and Safety Executive also provide information on Domestic Gas Safety:

Electrics need to comply with current Building Regulations and be installed/works undertaken by a member of a competent persons scheme.

Different categories of HMO have different levels of risk and the standards reflect these.  For example, hostels may need more smoke detectors than houses with lodgers.

The Council has also produced a Home Safety Inspection Checklist to help with the above standards, a downloadable version can be found in the list of documents at the bottom of this page.

Use our HMO 3 Storey Guide to identify what counts as a property of 3 storeys or more in height.


Licensed HMO's:

The 2004 Housing Act introduced mandatory licensing of certain HMOs.

If you can answer YES to the following three questions, then you will probably need an HMO Licence:

  1. Do you consider your house to be a House in Multiple Occupation?
  2. Do you rent a property to 5 or more persons who do not form a single household?
  3. Does the property have three or more stories of living accommodation? (A basement or a bedroom in the roof would each count as one storey).

If you answer NO to any of the above questions, then you probably do not need an HMO Licence, however if you are unsure about whether or not you require a licence, please contact the Environmental Services Team who will be happy to advise you.

Adopted Standards of fitness and management for HMOs can be viewed below: