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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s)

These are homes (a house or flat) which are let as rooms to 3 or more unrelated tenants who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. These are called Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s).

There are two types of HMO, those that require a licence and those that don't.

A HMO needs a licence if:

  • there are 5 or more tenants from
  • two or more separate households and
  • they share facilities, such as a toilet, bathroom or kitchen

HMOs don't need to be licensed if they are managed or owned by a Housing Association, a Council, a Health Service or a Police or Fire Service or certain Co-operative societies.

Whether a HMO is licensed or not, there are still extra rules to reduce the risk of fire and to make sure anyone living there has enough facilities, including kitchens, bathrooms and toilets. The rooms in the HMO must be the right size to live in.

More detail can be found in these guides

If you are a landlord then you will also need to carry out a fire risk assessment to help decide how you need to reduce the risk of fire too. Devon and Somerset Fire Service provide guidance on how to do this.

Any owner or manager of a HMO must also make sure it is well managed, known as the Management Regulations which includes:

  • shared facilities (kitchen, bathrooms and toilets) and all common areas, such as hallways, lobbies and porches, being clean, safe and in good repair
  • ensuring rubbish is handled properly
  • ensuring any yard or garden is kept clear of accumulations of refuse, is tidy and not overgrown
  • ensuring any fences or walls provided to boundaries of the property are maintained and kept in reasonable repair
  • for all fixtures, fittings and appliances provided by the landlord, to keep these in clean, safe and good working order
  • keeping all means of escape in case of a fire free from any obstructions and that all equipment provided to warn and detect of a fire, which includes smoke alarms and heat detectors, or to allow safe egress in the event of a fire is maintained in full working order
  • ensure the water supply and drainage is all kept in a good, clean working order
  • keeping contact details (name, address and telephone number) for the manager on display in the HMO

Where a landlord does not follow the HMO Management Regulations then we will look to prosecute or issue a fixed penalty notice (up to £20,000 per an offence).

If you are a landlord and need to apply for a licence for your HMO apply on the Houses in multiple occupation licence page.

A tenant living in a HMO which should be licensed but isn’t can apply for the rent to be paid back for a period of up to 12 months. This is known as a Rent Repayment Order. A tenant cannot claim rent paid by housing benefit/universal credit, this will be claimed by the local authority. If a tenant receiving housing benefit/universal credit makes an application for a Rent Repayment Order the money will be awarded to the council. The form to apply and guidance and can be found on the Gov.uk website.