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  4. Houses in multiple occupation

Houses in multiple occupation

Houses that are occupied by three or more people who do not live as a single household are known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO), for example:

  • Bedsits
  • Shared houses and lodgings
  • Employment or educational accommodation
  • Shared accommodation for homeless people
  • Residential Care Homes and similar establishments 

We keep a register of houses in multiple occupation.

HMO licences

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) must be licensed if:

  • they are rented to five or more people who form more than one household
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

You can be get an unlimited fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO.  

Licences will be given if:

  • the house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation
  • the applicant is the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • the proposed manager has control of the house and is the best person to be the manager
  • the management arrangements are satisfactory

Licence fees

The total cost for a three year approved licence is £620. 

HMO Licences are split into two parts:

  • to make an application there is a fee of £262
  • if your application is successful, you will receive an invoice from us for the licence issue fee of £358 

The application fee is not refundable.

Apply for a HMO licence

To apply complete and return the form.

Apply online for a HMO licence

What happens next

We will aim to decide your application within 16 weeks of receipt of a complete application.

You cannot assume that the licence has been automatically granted if the 16 week period has passed. It is in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted. If we are unable to come to a decision within 16 weeks, we will contact you with further advice.  

The licence for your HMO is valid for a maximum of three years and you will need to apply for another licence before the current one expires.

Fire safety

Landlords of all rented housing must make sure the risk from fire is minimised.

LACORS national fire safety guidance for housing (PDF 1MB / 82 pages)

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 introduced duties in relation to the common areas of HMOs and blocks of flats. 

The duty is placed on the “responsible person” who is required to:

  • carry out a fire risk assessment
  • take action in regard to reducing the risk of fire

Electrical safety

Landlords are responsible for the safety of:

  • the fixed electrical installation in their rental properties
  • any electrical appliances they provide

The fixed electrical installation must be inspected and tested at intervals of no more than five years.

Electrical Safety First: Landlords electrical safety obligations

The duty is placed on the “responsible person” who is required to:

  • carry out a fire risk assessment
  • take action in regard to reducing the risk of fire

Facilities in an HMO

An HMO must have adequate facilities for everyone living there. They must have:

  • adequate facilities for storage, preparation and cooking of food, including sinks with hot and cold water supplies
  • sufficient suitably located toilets
  • adequate number of suitably located baths or showers and hand-wash basins, each with satisfactory supplies of hot and cold water

By rule of thumb, one complete kitchen and bathroom is required for every 5 occupants that share the accommodation.

Management of HMO regulations

All properties meeting the HMO definition need to ensure that they comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006. These regulations, produced by the government, require anyone who manages an HMO to observe proper standards of repair, cleanliness and maintenance throughout the property.  They cover the water supply and drainage; parts of the house and installations in common use; living accommodation; windows and other ventilation; escape from fire and apparatus and systems for fire precautions, as well the general safety of residents.

The regulations also require occupiers of an HMO not to obstruct the manager of the property from carrying out their duties under the regulations.

All HMOs under these regulations are required to have the electrical installation inspected and tested every 5 years. The certificate produced is called an electrical installation condition report.

Non-compliance with the management regulations can result in fines of up to £5,000 upon conviction (as at October 2018). Local authorities are also able to issue landlords with civil penalty notices of up to £30,000 per offence as an alternative to prosecution.