Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

What is a HMO?

A property is a HMO if it is let as a main or only home to at least three tenants, who form more than one household and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

A household consists of either a single person or members of the same family who live together, including:

  • People who are married or living together
  • People in same-sex relationships
  • Relatives who are living together - including step-children, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins and foster children
  • Certain live-in domestic staff such as au pairs, nannies, nurses or other carers, gardeners, chauffeurs, servants (if certain conditions are met)

If you are a tenant in shared accommodation, you may live in an HMO. These properties can be an entire house, flat or converted building or any of the following:

  • Bedsits
  • Shared houses
  • Households with a lodger
  • Purpose-built HMOs
  • Hostels
  • Guesthouses - if rented out of season
  • Bed and breakfasts providing accommodation for homeless people
  • Some types of self-contained flats converted from houses

Does an HMO need a licence?

Your property is a licensable HMO if all of the following apply:

  • It has any number of storeys
  • It's rented to five or more people from two or more households
  • It has shared facilities like a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room

Changes to mandatory licensing

At the moment it's only HMOs with three or more storeys and five or more people  that need a licence.

From 1 October 2018 HMOs that are occupied by five or more people with any number of storeys will be licensable.

This means that flats, converted flats and one or two story properties will become licensable.

Licensing will also apply to blocks of purpose-built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied as an HMO.

Last updated: 30 July 2018