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Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

Is my property a HMO?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.  It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

A household consists of either a single person or members of the same family who live together.  It includes people who are married or living together and people in same-sex relationships.

An HMO must have a licence if it is occupied by 5 or more people.

The full legal definition of House in Multiple Occupation is set out in the Housing Act 2004. The Act says a HMO means a building, or part of a building, such as a flat, that:

  • is occupied by more than one household and where more than one household shares or lacks an amenity, such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities
  • is occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building but not entirely self-contained
  • flats, whether or not some amenities are shared or lacking
  • is converted self-contained flats that do not meet the minimum standard required by the 1991 Building Regulations.

The building is occupied by more than one household:

  • as their only or main residence (e.g. it is not holiday accommodation)
  • as a refuge for people escaping domestic violence
  • by students during term time
  • for other purposes prescribed by the government, e.g. migrant workers

 A household: 

  • includes single people, couples and same sex couples as well as families
  • to be part of the same family people must be a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin in the same family
  • other relationships, such as foster parents, carer and domestic staff.