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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

HMO licensing.

HMO licence applications and renewals.


Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

HMOs are defined as 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.  HMOs also include:

  • 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.


Controls on HMOs

HMOs must be licensed if they have 3 or more storeys and are occupied by 5 or more persons forming 2 or more households. This is under a mandatory national scheme of licensing.

Exemptions to HMO licensing.

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.

We can introduce additional licensing to bring more categories of houses into licensing to resolve problems with the houses, that are not being resolved with the cooperation of the landlords.

In December 2015, the Government consulted about whether to bring more categories of houses into the mandatory licensing definition including:

  • 2 storey HMOs occupied by 5 or more

  • houses that have split into self-contained flats without building regulations to 1991 or later


We have no controls over amenity standards for HMOs but we do have a voluntary scheme - called snug.

Snug is a partnership between ourselves, Sheffield Hallam University and Students Union.

Only good houses and landlords can enter the scheme.

More about snug.

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 the standards in the document below.


Planning Permission

Properties that were previously occupied by a single family which are converted into HMOs may require Planning Permission as a change of use – this is applicable to houses of over 6 persons throughout the City.  In addition, most student areas of the city are subject to further controls to stop new development unless there is less than 20% HMOs within 200m of the house.  Further information is available at HMO Planning Permission

Further Planning restrictions relating to works to the frontages of houses apply to areas of the city in conservation areas and to listed buildings.  Further information is available at Planning Permission Conservation

Business premises converted into residential accommodation, regardless of the proposed number of occupants will also be subject to Planning Permission

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.


Management of HMOs

There are 2 sets of management relations:

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


Other controls

There are other controls on private housing affecting HMOs but these also apply to all types of properties.

  • Modified: Nov 8, 2016 1:16:21 PM