If you want to rent out a house in multiple occupations in England or Wales you must contact your council to check if you need an HMO licence
What exactly is an HMO property? HMO stands for House in Multiple Occupation. What this means, is a house or a flat that is rented out by a group of at least three people who are not from a single household.
A household can include a single person, couples, parents with children, foster parents, and carers.
In an HMO the occupants will also typically share communal spaces including the kitchen, bathroom, and sometimes living spaces too.
There are many types of accommodation that could be deemed an HMO. These may include, but are not limited to:
As you can see the term covers a broad range of potential properties. A good rule of thumb though is if the occupants (three or more not from the same household) share facilities such as bathroom or kitchen the property could be deemed an HMO.
In order for a property to be classified as a HMO it should have several common features. These are:
These common features are applicable to individual flats, but different rules apply when taking whole converted blocks into consideration. All of the above must be in place for the property to legally be classed as a HMO (unless the property is exempt – see below).
HMOs can house a high number of people. And, in order to avoid the property being exploited and ensure the safety and well-being of the tenants, local authorities pay particular attention and take health and safety in HMOs very seriously. As such, tenant grievances are likely to be acted upon quickly and punishments implemented should they be brought to the attention of their Tenant Liaison Officer (TLO).
Prosecution of landlords who fail to comply isn’t unheard of and, in extreme cases, the council may even take over the managerial duties of an HMO themselves. In addition, in order to run a HMO you may need a licence.
As mentioned above, landlords operating a HMO need to stay on top of health and safety issues and ensure their property remains compliant with HMO letting guidelines.
A few key things to keep in mind managing an HMO, are:
If you want to rent out your property as a house in multiple occupations in England or Wales you must contact your council to check if you need a licence. Generally speaking, any large HMO will need a licence unless it qualifies for an HMO exemption (see below). A licence is only valid for up to 5 years. After which point you will need to get it renewed. Additionally, you must have a separate HMO licence for each and every HMO you own.
You must have a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO in England or Wales. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:
(Please note, you don’t need a licence to rent out other residential properties in this borough.)
You must meet HMO obligations and safety checks, including making sure the property is not overcrowded and that there are enough facilities for people living there. You’re responsible for repairs to communal areas.
HMO fines and penalties depend on your local council but can include:
Further information is available for landlords and tenants on the following websites:
Not all properties with multiple occupants are deemed to be HMOs for the purposes of the Housing Act 2004. Certain types of properties qualify for HMO exemptions including:
If a property with multiple occupants is exempt from needing an HMO licence. It’s worth noting that they may still be required to make adequate provisions for fire precautions and have suitable amenities.
The first thing you need to do if you’re letting out a property with multiple occupants is determine if you need a licence.
Other things to consider include:
Depending on the size of the property and the planned occupancy you may need to acquire planning permission if your want to convert a property to an HMO. Generally speaking, you will only need to obtain planning permissions if there are going to be more than six people living in the property.
For further information visit change of use (planningportal.co.uk)
An HMO must meet the minimum standards required by law to legally be let. You will need to ensure the property is:
You should also check with your local council as they may have additional conditions that you must meet for your licence. For example, they may require you to improve the standard of your facilities. They should let you know of these specifics when you apply for your HMO licence.
The specifics may vary depending on the local council’s guidelines but the below guidelines are a general guide for landlords to follow to ensure their HMO is managed properly and is suitable for the number of occupants.
The minimum sleeping room floor area sizes (subject to the measurement restrictions detailed in the paragraphs below) to be imposed as conditions of Part 2 licences are:
It will also be a mandatory condition that any room of less than 4.64 m2 may not be used as sleeping accommodation and the landlord will need to notify the local housing authority of any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 m2.
The measurement is one of wall to wall floor area where the ceiling height is greater than 1.5m. No part of a room should be included in the measurement where the ceiling height is less than 1.5m.
HMO occupied by one to five people:
The kitchen must have a minimum size of 7 square metres and there must be an additional living room or dining room with a minimum size of 11 square metres, or there must be a kitchen diner with a minimum size of 16.5 square metres.
HMO occupied by six to 10 people:
The kitchen must have a minimum size of 10 square metres and there must be an additional living room or dining room with a minimum size of 16.5 square metres or there must be a kitchen diner with a minimum size of 19.5 square metres
Kitchens must also be a minimum of 1.8 metres wide to allow occupants to move around safely.
No separate communal lounge, kitchen, or dining room is required.
As part of the application for an HMO licence you will likely need to provide the following supporting information: