About HMOs

HMO forms and documents

Apply for a licence and see our standards

What is a HMO?

A HMO is a 'House in Multiple Occupation' and is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from the one ‘household’, eg a family, but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

Under the Housing Act 2004, if you let a property which is one of the following it will be classed as a house in multiple occupation:

  • A house or flat let to 3 or more tenants, forming 2 or more households, sharing a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
  • A house converted entirely into bedsits or non-self contained accommodation, and let to three or more tenants, forming 2 or more households and sharing a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
  • A converted house containing 1 or more flats which are not self contained (i.e. do not contain kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households.
  • A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats and the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations, and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.

A property with a live-in resident landlord who has three or more lodgers will also be deemed to be a HMO.  These types of HMOs can also require licensing if the property has three or more storeys, is occupied by five or more persons and there is sharing of facilities.

Essentially a HMO must be licensed if it meets the following criteria:

  • Has five or more tenants living as two or more households, and
  • Share facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom and toilet.
  • Even if your property is smaller and rented to less people, you may still need a licence depending on the area. Please contact us to check.


  • A licence is valid for a maximum of five years
  • You must renew your licence before it runs out
  • If you run more than one HMO, you need a separate licence for each home


  • The house must be suitable for the number of occupants (eg size and facilities)
  • The manager of the house - you or an agent - is considered to be ‘fit and proper’, eg no criminal record, or breach of landlord laws or code of practice.

You must also:

  • Send the council an updated gas safety certificate every year
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms
  • Provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested

We may add other conditions to your licence, eg improving the standard of your facilities. We will tell you when you apply.

If you disagree with any of the conditions we have set, you can appeal to a Residential Property Tribunal.

Licensing criteria:

The Housing Act 2004 introduced mandatory licensing of certain higher risk houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and a new system of assessing housing conditions. This is known as the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).  This covers a wide variety of issues which may pose a threat to the health and safety of the occupiers or visitors.

A household as defined under the Housing Act 2004:

  • Couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife. Couples in same sex relationships.
  • Relatives living together: including parents, grandparents, children and step children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins.

Three unrelated friends living together would be deemed to be three households, whether occupying the property on a single tenancy or not. And as such, would meet the definition of a HMO.  However, two unrelated single persons occupying a property are exempt from the definition and therefore this would not be classed as a HMO.