Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

The Housing Act 2004 provides detailed definition of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and sets out standards of management for this type of property, but in simple terms a building or part of a building is classed as an HMO if it is occupied by persons forming 2 or more households . Licensing is mandatory for all HMOs which have three or more storeys and are occupied by 5 or more persons forming 2 or more households. For a more detailed explanation of which buildings are classed as HMOs  please read the HMO licensing landlord guide booklet.

A landlord will not be able to gain possession of their property using section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 where an HMO is licensable and no licence has been issued or temporary exemption notice granted.

Is my property an HMO?      

If you are unsure whether your property is an HMO or is subject to licensing please complete and submit the questionnaire; Is my property an HMO?

Regulations for the management of HMOs        

A manager of an HMO has a duty to properly manage that house under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007. The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that the manager exercises proper standards of management, maintains the property in a good state of repair, ensures all facilities are kept in proper working order and that all steps are taken to reduce the risk of injury. The full version of the regulations can be viewed in the following link: The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 or below is a summary of these regulations:
  • The manager is to provide his name, address and telephone number to all the occupiers, and display this in a prominent position
  • All means of escape from fire to be kept free from obstruction

  • Fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment to be kept in good working order

  • All reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of the occupiers, this includes protecting occupiers from falls, for example, from low windows, off flat roofs and into light-wells as well as other hazards, but will also cover electrical, gas and other safety issues

  • The water supply is maintained, tanks covered and fittings protected from frost, the water supply is not to be unreasonably interrupted

  • The drainage system (including rainwater drainage) is maintained

  • The manager must supply a copy of the latest gas certificate within seven days of us requesting it

  • Ensure the electrical wiring is tested at no less than five yearly intervals, and supply a copy of the test certificate within seven days of us requesting it

  • Ensure that the supply of gas and electricity to each tenant is not unreasonably interrupted

  • Ensure the common parts and fittings of the HMO are in good order, clean, decorative, repaired and free from obstruction, this includes handrails, stair carpets, windows, light fittings and appliances

  • Common parts lighting is to be adequate and available at all times

  • The common outbuildings, yards etc are to be kept in good order

  • The boundary walls, fences etc are kept safe and in good order

  • The doors to each letting are kept in good order

  • Each unit of accommodation, and any furniture provided with it, should be clean at the beginning of the occupation

  • Each unit of accommodation, its windows and ventilators are to be kept in good repair, and working order, the fittings and appliances are to be kept clean and in good working order (there are exceptions where problems arise from poor tenant behaviour)

  • Proper facilities and arrangements are provided for the storage and disposal of refuse.

Where there is a failure to comply with the requirements of these regulations the council will seek to take the appropriate action which could result in prosecution of the manager and/or landlord.

Fire safety in HMOs

The Housing Act 2004 brought in a new system for regulation of fire safety in existing residential premises by way of the Housing Health and Safety Rating system (HHSRS), licensing provisions for HMOs and the management regulations for HMOs. Alongside the Housing Act 2004, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) introduced duties in relation to fire safety in the common areas of HMOs (this does not apply to some HMOs which are occupied as ‘shared houses’). However landlords should be able to comply with the fire safety requirements without detailed knowledge of the legislative framework.

The LACoRS Fire Safety Guide is a government produced document containing guidance for landlords and fire safety enforcement officers on how to ensure there is adequate fire safety in certain types of residential accommodation. The person having control of the property, be it the landlord or managing agent, must carry out a fire risk assessment for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions and other measures needed to reduce the risk of fire and the outcome of harm to the residents.

Landlords of larger properties often choose to seek professional help to conduct a fire risk assessment of their property.

Management orders

If an HMO is not suitable for the number of occupants, is not properly managed or the landlord or manager is not a fit and proper person, a licence will not be granted. In these circumstances the council must make an Interim Management Order (IMO) which allows the authority to take over the management of the property, either themselves or through a nominated partner.

The IMO can last for a year until suitable alternative management arrangements have been made. If after one year no alternative arrangements have been made then the council will make a Final Management Order which can last up to five years and is renewable. Management orders aim to protect the occupiers and improve the management of the property.