Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19): 

Given the developing situation with Coronavirus COVID19, we are taking practical steps to manage the resources we have, their health, and the health of our clients. During this time, we will need to take some tough decisions on how and when we will undertake inspections. Many of our team will be required to work from home, and if applicable self-isolate from all unnecessary contact. With this in mind, we are looking to adopt the cancellation of all non-critical inspections. Our officers will continue to review all new complaints that come into the service, but will now prioritise only those that are deemed critical.

This is an ever developing situation and further updates may follow. We ask that you follow national guidance and updates for the protection of yours, your families, health in the coming weeks and months.

The definition of a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) is complex however: 

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 three 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

HMO’s that meet a prescribed description from the Secretary of State 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

Please see the prescribed description on the legislation.gov.uk website. Please note that 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. Email communityconnections@plymouth.gov.uk or call 01752 398500 if you're a landlord and need advice or guidance on licensing your property.

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.