Skip to main content

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

A building, or part of a building, is likely to be a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:

  • At least 3 tenants live there, forming more than one household
  • You share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants, or one of these facilities is accessed off a communal part of a property e.g. a shared hallway

HMOs that meet a prescribed description are required to have a HMO licence. A HMO is likely to be licensable if all of the following apply:

  • At least five persons live there forming more than one household
  • It is a HMO

A building may require more than one HMO licence, for example where there are multiple flats that are licensable in their own right.

It is an offence to own or manage a HMO that is required to be licensed without it being so licensed. There are a range of penalties including:

  • Prosecution (unlimited fine) or Civil Penalty (up to £30,000)
  • Repayment of rent (including housing benefit) for up to the previous 12 months
  • Management Order upon the property
  • Loss of ability to evict under ‘Section 21’.
  • Entry on the Rogue Landlord Database leading to a possible Banning Order

A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • Married or living together (including people in same-sex relationships)
  • Relatives or half-relatives for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • Step-parents and step-children

We're responsible for enforcing HMO standards and we inspect properties during the period of the licence. Inspections may also be part of an improvement program or following a complaint. 

HMO license

Applying, renewing and costs are available on our HMO licensing page.

HMO standards

Every House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) should have:

  • fire alarms and firefighting equipment in good working order
  • fire escapes that are unobstructed
  • water supply that is well maintained and uninterrupted (tanks covered and fittings protected from frost)
  • a well maintained drainage system (including rainwater drainage)
  • gas and electricity supply that are well maintained and uninterrupted (electrical wiring must be checked every five years)
  • a hazard free living environment
  • accommodation (including furniture) that is clean and in good repair at the beginning of occupation
  • well maintained common outbuildings and yards
  • secure and well maintained boundary walls and fences
  • facilities and arrangements for responsible waste disposal
  • well maintained common areas and fittings (clean, free from obstruction and in good decorative repair)
  • adequate lighting, available at all times

Each unit of accommodation should have:

  • fittings and appliances in good working order
  • secure doors in good working order
  • safe windows and ventilators in good working order
  • adequate lighting available at all times

HMO Standards 2020

Managing a HMO

You must have a licence if your property is a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

As a landlord of a HMO you must:

  • respond to complaints from both tenants and neighbours
  • inspect the property at regular intervals (frequency will depend on the age and condition of the property and occupiers)
  • inspect fire alarms, emergency lights, gas and electrical installations at appropriate intervals
  • keep records of your visits (and any repairs or action taken) and your certificates
  • display your contact details in a prominent position
  • give 24 hours' notice (at a reasonable time) to access the property
  • ensure the property isn't overcrowded
  • be competent to manage the property and have the resources to do it
  • comply with housing and related legislation
  • take steps to minimise anti-social behaviour
  • follow smoke free legislation (if the property has free access to shared areas or if people work there)
  • provide a copy of the latest gas certificate
  • provide a copy of the electrical test certificate
  • provide a copy of the terms of occupation
  • provide clean accommodation (including furniture) at the beginning of occupation

We're responsible for enforcing HMO standards and we inspect properties before the licence is granted or during the period of the licence. Inspections may also be part of an improvement programme or follow a complaint.

Landlord accreditation schemes

We recognise the following accreditation schemes:

Other schemes can be considered if they meet the following criteria:

  • The scheme includes landlord training
  • There's a test of competence
  • There's a code of conduct
  • The scheme will exclude landlords who are known to be
  • There's a disciplinary process

You'll receive a £100 discount on your House in Multiple Occupation licence fee once you're a member of an accreditation scheme.


Email if you need advice or guidance on licensing your property or safety standards. Wherever possible we'll work with you to improve your property but if this fails we can use enforcement powers.

If you’re a tenant and have a housing safety issue, we advise that you raise this matter to your landlord at the earliest opportunity. If you feel that there is no appropriate response, you can register a concern by submitting a Housing Improvement Service Request on our Housing improvements/disrepair page. Wherever possible we'll work with you and your landlord to improve the property but if this fails we can use enforcement powers.