Houses in multiple occupation

The definition of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) under the Housing Act 2004 is as follows:

A HMO is a building or part of a building (eg a flat):

  • in which more than one household resides as their only or main residence and shares an amenity e.g. kitchen or bathroom
  • which is a converted building that does not entirely comprise self-contained flats

A household is defined as either a single person or members of the same family who are living together.

HMO landlords must comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, which stipulate the roles and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.

Changes to mandatory HMO licensing

The licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) will change on 1 October, when the extension of mandatory licensing is introduced.

We are now accepting licence applications for HMOs that are licensable from 1 October 2018.

Currently a property needs an HMO licence if it comprises three or more storeys and houses five or more people in two or more households.

A change in the law means that a licensable HMO will now be defined as:

  • a property occupied by five or more people forming two or more separate households, or
  • a purpose-built flat in a block of up to two flats and occupied as an HMO by five or more people

Landlords and managers of properties affected by the change must apply for a licence from us before 1 October. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.

We’ll provide more information here soon, including the date from which you can apply in relation to the new law.

The change in the law is intended to improve the standards and safety of rented accommodation in the UK. It will increase the range of measures available to local housing authorities with which to tackle rogue landlords.

Self-contained flats

Section 257 of the Housing Act 2004 applies to a HMO that is a converted block of flats, where the conversion to flats was completed before 1 June 1992, and where less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied.

HMOs falling within the definition of section 257 are not subject to mandatory licensing, but may be licensed under section 56 of the Housing Act 2004 - additional licensing.

Landlords of this type of HMO must comply with the Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 in addition to the regulations linked to above.

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