Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

What is a house in multiple occupation (HMO)?

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a new definition of a house in multiple occupation.

For simplicity, a summary of the types of property that would be considered to be a HMO are:

  • A house (or flat) which is let to three or more people, who form two or more households, and who share a basic amenity (e.g. a bathroom, toilet, or cooking facilities).
  • A building which has been converted entirely into bedsits, or other non-self-contained accommodation, and is let to three or more people, who form two or more households, and who share a basic amenity (e.g. a bathroom, toilet, or cooking facilities).
  • A converted house which contained one or more flats, that are not wholly self-contained (i.e. the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom, or toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households.
  • A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats and the standard of the conversion does not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations, and more than one third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.

The building must also be the tenant’s only or main residence and rent must be payable.

Certain HMOs require a licence to operate, find out more about HMO Licencing.

Do I need planning permission to convert my property into a HMO?

In Trafford an Article 4 Direction is in force so there are specific planning rules that may affect whether you need planning permission to operate a HMO. For example, you will need planning permission to change a family house into a HMO.

Which HMOs must be licenced?

Since 1 October 2018 mandatory licensing for houses in multiple occupation (HMO) is no longer limited to HMOs that are three or more storeys high, but also includes buildings with one or two storeys.

A property will require a mandatory HMO license if:

  • it is rented to five or more people from more than one household; and the HMO is either:
  • A building where a tenant shares a basic amenity (i.e. toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities) or their living accommodation lacks a basic amenity (e.g. a shared house arrangement)
  • A self-contained flat where a tenant shares a basic amenity. Excluding purpose-built flats that are situated in a block of three or more self-contained flats.
  • A building that has been converted and one or more of the units of accommodation is not self-contained (e.g. bed-sit type arrangement).

You can apply for a HMO licence online; this page also includes the legislation that details which HMOs require a mandatory HMO licence.

It is a criminal offence to be in control of, or be managing, a house in multiple occupation which is not licenced but is required to be so. There are a range of sanctions than could be imposed on those who fail to licence HMOs including:

  • An unlimited fine upon prosecution and given a criminal record
  • A civil penalty of up to £30,000
  • You could be banned from running a rental property
  • Stopped from using Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to evict your tenant
  • Payback rent received over the last 12 months to the council or the tenants

HMO queries

If you have any queries regarding HMOs, you can contact the Housing Standards Team: