Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – An essential guide

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is defined by the Government as: “A property rented out b

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is defined by the Government as:

“A property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (e.g. a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.”

But what is a ‘household’?

For the purposes of the Housing Act 2004, a ‘household’ is expressed as members of the same family living together. This can include married or a residing couple, relatives that live together which also includes half-relatives and any domestic staff that they have working for them.

Domestic staff are included when living in accommodation provided by their employer and paying no rent.

What is the difference between an ‘HMO’ and a ‘Large HMO’?

A property is an ‘HMO’ if at least three tenants live there, forming more than one household. These tenants must share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom between households. 

Properties can also be classed as a Large HMO if more than five tenants occupy a property of at least three storeys, creating more than one household. As above, all tenants must share facilities with other tenants.

Is a block of flats classed as an HMO?

The Housing Act 2004 details certain types of properties that would not be classed as an HMO (although these will still be subject to the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System [HHSRS] regime), and a purpose built block of flats is not an HMO.

Special provisions are made for converted flats. A block of purpose built flats do not form an HMO as a block. However, individual self-contained flats within the block can still fall within the HMO definition (whether purpose built or converted) if it is let to three or more tenants, and at least one of them is unrelated. With this in mind, the flat will not be subject to ‘mandatory licensing’ unless the local council has introduced an ‘additional HMO licensing’ scheme.

Keen to know more?

We've created an essential short guide to HMOs that includes:

  • What is an HMO?

  • Obtaining an HMO licence and what is included in the licence

  • What funding options are available for your client, including: licensed HMOs, multi-lets and converting a property into an HMO

  • The top 10 things to consider before purchasing and operating an HMO


Download your free HMO eGuide here


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