Comprehensive Overview and Classification of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property rented out to several unrelated individuals who form two or more separate households. These tenants share essential amenities such as kitchens and bathrooms. HMOs are regulated under the Housing Act 2004, with additional stipulations provided by the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018. Household Definition

In the context of HMOs, a household is defined as individuals who are related by family ties, including married couples, same-sex couples, and other relatives. Domestic workers, such as au pairs or nannies, living with the family are also considered part of the household.

Licensing and Management

When Licensing is Required

Licensing is mandatory for HMOs that accommodate five or more occupants from at least two unrelated households. Licensing ensures that properties meet specific safety and management standards to protect the tenants’ well-being.

Management Requirements

  • Contact Information: The manager’s contact details must be provided to tenants and displayed prominently within the property.
  • Safety Standards: HMOs must adhere to strict safety standards, which include maintaining firefighting equipment, ensuring clear escape routes, conducting regular gas and electrical safety checks, and managing waste disposal effectively.

Local Authority Powers

Local authorities have significant powers to regulate HMOs:

  • Planning Permission: They can require planning permission for HMOs in certain areas.
  • Selective Licensing: Authorities can selectively license properties in regions prone to low demand or antisocial behavior.
  • Penalties for Non-compliance: Failure to comply with licensing requirements can result in severe fines, rent repayment orders, and restrictions on issuing Section 21 notices to tenants.

Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants

Landlord Responsibilities

  • Property Standards: Landlords must maintain property standards, ensure safety equipment is functional, and keep safety records up-to-date.
  • Management: They must manage waste effectively and provide written terms of occupation, complying with local authority conditions.

Tenant Responsibilities

  • Cooperation: Tenants are expected to cooperate with property management and allow inspections to ensure compliance with safety and management standards.

Fit and Proper Person Criteria for Licenses

To obtain an HMO license, applicants must meet the “fit and proper person” criteria. This means they should not have committed serious offences such as fraud, violence, or drug-related crimes, nor should they have breached housing laws, be insolvent, or be illegal immigrants.

Following is the flowchart for a complete understanding of HMOs.


By understanding these definitions, classifications, and responsibilities, both landlords and tenants can ensure that HMOs are managed effectively, providing safe and compliant living environments.

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