Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

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.