Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) guidance for tenants

Last Updated: 3 April 2024

Find out if you are living in a house in multiple occupation (HMO)

A property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if it is the main or only residence for three or more occupants, forming more than one household and who share basic amenities.

A household is defined as “all members of the same family”. This includes:

  • couples married to each other or living together
  • relatives living together
  • half relatives, who are to be treated as full relatives
  • domestic staff, if they are living in accommodation provided by the person they are working for

Properties occupied by students, hotel staff, migrant workers and seasonal workers are regarded as their only or main residence.

A more detailed definition of an HMO is contained within sections 254 to 257 of the Housing Act 2004.

Your landlord's obligations

Licensable HMOs are inspected to ensure compliance with relevant legislation.

Landlords of HMOs must make sure that:

  • proper fire safety measures are in place
  • annual gas safety checks are carried out
  • electrics are checked at least every five years
  • water supply and drainage is maintained
  • there are enough cooking and bathroom facilities for the number of occupants
  • communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair
  • there are adequate waste disposal facilities

Full details of HMO regulations

If you are concerned that your landlord is not complying with HMO regulations, please contact our housing standards team.

HMO licensing

It is an offence for a landlord to operate without a licence if one is required. If an HMO contains five or more people, it will need a licence.

Licensing makes sure:

  • landlords are fit and proper people or employ managers
  • the standard of management is adequate and vulnerable tenants are protected
  • each HMO is suitable for the number of people on the licence and not overcrowded
  • HMOs with poor standards can be identified and improved

We maintain a public register of all HMO licences, to check if a property has a licence contact our housing standards team.