Houses in multiple occupation
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book of Legislation, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. This guide is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law in England. If you require precise or detailed information on the legislation mentioned in this guide, or on the legal implications for you in particular, you should consult a professional legal adviser.
- In some cases, your local authority may class your accommodation as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
- If you feel that your property is being classed wrongly as an HMO by the local authority, you may appeal to a residential property tribunal.
- HMOs usually need to be licensed by the council.
- Environmental Health Officers are responsible for enforcing HMO legislation locally.
In a few local authority areas, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and holiday flats have been classed as HMOs. When this happens, the implications for a proprietor can be far reaching.
The Housing Act 2004 introduced mandatory licensing and a new definition for HMOs.
What is an HMO?
A house in multiple occupation is defined in the Housing Act 2004 as:
- an entire house or flat that is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom, or toilet facilities
- a house that has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom, or toilet facilities
- a converted house that contains one or more flats that are not wholly self-contained (i.e. the flat does not contain a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and that is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households
- a building that is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the Building Regulations 1991, and more than one third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.
In order to be an HMO, the property must be used as the tenants' only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges.
Therefore, holiday cottages let to families or other groups of people living together as one household for a holiday, who have a main home elsewhere, are not HMOs.
Where winter letting to groups of people who are not related is taking place, the premises may well be considered to be an HMO and you should seek advice.