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Cambridge City Council

Houses in multiple occupation

The Housing Act 2004 defines a house in multiple occupation (HMO) as follows:

A HMO is a building, or part of a building such as a flat:

  • in which more than one household resides as their only or main residence and shares an amenity such as the 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) changed in October 2018, when the extension of mandatory licensing was introduced.

If you are affected by the change you must make an application to licence your property without further delay.

The change in the law means you are required to licence a property if it is:

  • 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 were required to have applied for a licence from us before 1 October 2018. Failure to licence is a criminal offence.

If you have yet to licence a property and you are required to do so please ensure that this is done without further delay.

For more information about HMO licences and how to apply for one, read licensing of houses in multiple occupation.

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.