HMO, house in multiple occupation
When renting property a term you will come across is HMO, as most people don’t fully understand HMOs we have created this subject to give you a clearer guide on what HMO is and if it affects you.
The information given applies to the room rental market in England and Wales only as Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own regulations.
What is HMO?
The term HMO stands for House in Multiple Occupation, generally meaning a house that is occupied by several unrelated paying tenants where they share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. To see if your property is considered to be HMO check below.
Is my property a HMO?
Under the changes in the Housing Act 2004, if a landlord lets a property which is one of the following types it is a House in Multiple Occupation:
- an entire house or flat which is let to 3 or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet
- a house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to 3 or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities.
- a converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more tenants who form two or more households.
- a building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if 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.
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.
What is a household?
For the purpose of the housing act 2004 the word household means members of the same family living together this includes:
- Married couples or those living together as husband and wife, including same sex couples, relatives living together, including parents, grandparents, children (and step-children), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins, half-relatives will be treated as full relatives and foster children living with their foster parents. This also includes any domestic staff i.e. au-pair or nanny provided there living there rent free and employed by you.
Therefore 3 friends sharing together are considered 3 households. If a couple are sharing with a 3rd person that would consist of 2 households. If a family rents a property that is a single household. If that family had an au-pair to look after their children that person would be included in their household.
No, I’m not an HMO
If you are not an HMO just remember if you take on more tenants to have a quick check of this subject in future.
Yes, I’m a HMO. What do I need to do?
All HMO’s are automatically registered and you may not need to contact anyone unless your privately rented HMO has three or more storeys and is occupied by five or more people who form two or more households. If this is the case then you need to obtain a licence for you HMO from your local council.
Are there any standards I need to follow?
You are responsible for making sure the property is kept in repair and is suitable for multiple tenants.
If your home has to be licensed the local housing authority can impose conditions to ensure that the property is occupied by no more than the permitted number of persons. Your council will also check the facilities and ensure that the property is properly managed.
Whether or not the HMO in which you live is licensed by the council, your landlord must comply with management regulations. Your home should also be free of any hazards likely to seriously impact upon your health and safety. If you think there is a hazard in your home you should contact the council.
In all rented properties utilities like gas must comply with safety regulations and all furniture should pass fire safety standards. The landlord has a duty to ensure that a gas safety check is performed annually and a certificate issued. Tenants are entitled to see the certificate.
For more information on HMOs, contact your local council or visit GOV.UK. Local regulations may vary.