Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

If you own an HMO in the Somerset West Private Sector Housing Partnership our Housing Standards team are available to advise on licensing, fire safety, property conditions and management standards.

What is an HMO?

A house in multiple occupation is often referred to as being an HMO or HIMO.

HMOs normally fall into one of the following types:

  • Shared houses and flats
  • Bedsits
  • Lodging houses
  • Hostels and some bed and breakfast accommodation
  • Residential staff accommodation
  • Student halls of residence
  • Houses converted into self-contained flats

The legal definition of an HMO is contained in Part 7 Housing Act 2004. The definitions is complex, but in essence a HMO will be a house or flat occupied by more than one household who share either a kitchen, bathroom or WC.

A building containing dwellings can itself be classed as a HMO. This will cover converted buildings containing living accommodation which is not entirely self-contained flats, either a mix of self-contained flats and other units sharing facilities, or flats, at least one of which have some facility outside the entrance to the flat, even if for exclusive use.

Buildings which are converted into entirely self-contained flats (i.e. contain kitchen, bathroom and WC behind a front door) may also be classed at HMO's. These are often termed Section 257 HMO's. To satisfy the definition, the conversion work would not meet the standards under Building Regulations 1991 and less than two thirds of the flats would need to be owner-occupied.

Building containing purpose built flats (provided they contain only single households) are not HMO's. However, they are subject to the Regulatory Reform Order for fire precautions (see below).

All HMOs must contain more than 2 households. A household can be a family, a couple (including same sex couples) or a single person. People who are unrelated will generally be treated as separate households.

An HMO must contain 3 or more unrelated occupants. There are a range of other exemptions, including properties occupied by a resident landlord, his family and not more than 2 unrelated persons. For information regarding exemptions please contact your Local Authority.

The following web page links sets out all the information required in relation to HMOs:

HMO Licensing Requirements and how to apply

If you think your property requires a licence click here. If you rent out a property which is three or more storeys and is occupied by five or more people living as two or more households a licence and fee is required.

HMO Property Standard Condition and Inspection

Click here to see the property standards and inspection process that are required for HMOs. HMO property standards are assessed under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) the Management conditions are assessed under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

HMO Fire Safety Regulations

For information on the requirement of fire safety precautions on HMOs we work to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 click for more information.