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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

HMO licensing.

HMO licence applications and renewals.


Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

In most cases an HMO is a house or a flat in which 2 or more households live as their only or main residence and where some of these households share basic facilities, such as a kitchen toilet or bathroom. 

Other types of HMOs:

  • converted buildings that include non self-contained flats
  • buildings that include self-contained flats and which meet certain tests
  • other buildings where basic facilities are missing

A household could be a single person, or members of the same family living together.  If there are 3 or more people living together in a flat or a building and they are not all in the same household, for example a shared student house, the building or flat may be classified as an HMO.

An HMO is regarded as a person's main or only residence if:

  • they are living in an HMO as a full time student in higher education (except for most halls of residence owned and managed by the universities)
  • the HMO is occupied as a refuge for persons escaping domestic violence
  • the HMO is occupied by migrant or seasonal workers
  • the HMO is occupied by asylum seekers in accommodation partly or wholly funded by the National Asylum Support Scheme.


HMOs requiring a licence

HMOs must be licensed if they have 3 or more storeys and are occupied by 5 or more persons forming 2 or more households. 

In the calculation of storeys, commercial use of the ground floor or above will count as a storey. For example, a shop or other commercial premises below a first and second flat will be a 3 storey HMO.

There are also other rules as to what can be a storey; check about licensing.

Planning controls for Houses in Multiple Occupation.


Management of HMOs

There are 2 sets of management relations:

  1. most HMOs - see Statutory Instruments no. 372, 2006
  2. section 257 HMOs (blocks of self-contained flats that fall within the HMO definition) - see Statutory Instruments no.1903, 2007.

The Management Regulations impose duties on both the managers and the tenants of an HMO.  The duties imposed are to ensure the good order, repair and, as appropriate, cleanliness of the following:

  • means of water supply and drainage
  • parts of the house in common use
  • installations in common use
  • living accommodation
  • windows and ventilation
  • means of escape from fire, including any fire apparatus.

The manager is also given certain responsibilities in respect of the disposal of refuse and litter, and the taking of reasonable precautions to protect tenants and lodgers from dangers resulting from structural conditions in the premises.

Management regulations also impose duties in the tenants of houses.  We have produced an open letter to tenants detailing their responsibilities that apply to shared houses of 3 or more persons. Landlords can print this letter off and give to tenants as part of their responsibilities under licensing conditions.


Standards of fire protection for non-licensable HMOs

These are our recommended standards for non-licensable HMOs. 

We cannot routinely enforce these standards.  However, if a property is inspected that has serious health and safety deficiencies for the hazard of fire, any requirements for works will be to these standards.

These are also the fire standards required for Snug homes which promotes the best quality student housing.


The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

All HMOs should be free from Serious Health and Safety Hazards – known as Category 1 Hazards.

Within 5 years of a licence application, all HMOs have to be assessed to ensure there are no category 1 hazards.

Read our short guide to the hazards and background of the Safety Ratings (HHSRS).


Fire Safety Order

Some HMOs will need to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  This is often referred to as the RRO or just the Fire Safety Order. 

These will typically be houses let as bedsits, hostels and blocks of flats.

Fire Safety Risk Assessment for sleeping accommodation.


Furniture and furnishings

In HMOs the manager is required to ensure that the furniture supplied is in a clean condition at the start of a person's occupation.

There are also standards for furniture and furnishings to ensure fire safety.


Building Regulation Approval

Some of the works to HMOs will require building regulation approval including for:

  • change of use for houses occupied by more than 6
  • installation of plumbing and electrical works
  • thermal insulation
  • structural alterations.

Meeting building regulation standards does not imply that the house meets HMO standards and will be free from Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) hazards.

Landlords submitting an application for building regulations should include HMO in the title of the application.  We may then advise you as to any requirements we might have.

Building regulations.


Planning Permission

Planning permission will be required for new HMOs of over 6 persons and we have an Article 4 Direction Area for any HMOs in the areas of the city with high concentrations of HMOs including:

  • Broomhall
  • Broomhill
  • Crookes
  • Hunters Bar
  • Sharrow
  • Walkley

Planning controls for Houses in Multiple Occupation.


Legionnaires' Disease

All landlords providing rented accommodation will have responsibilities to ensure that the risks regarding legionella are properly controlled.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforce landlord obligations for Legionnaire's Disease.


Energy Performance Certificates

Landlords in the social and private rented sectors must give new tenants a copy of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for their home.

It includes a rating for its energy efficiency and environmental impact, together with recommended measures (for the landlord to consider) which would improve its rating.

Prospective tenants are able to make informed choices about the energy costs and environmental impact of properties they are considering renting.

Landlords are encouraged to implement energy efficiency measures to make their properties more attractive to prospective tenants.

Standards in the sector have improved, tenants have warmer more efficient homes, and issues around the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), excess cold hazard, fuel poverty and the wider climate change agenda have been addressed.

A Landlord's Guide to energy performance certificates.

  • Modified: Mar 26, 2015 8:07:52 AM