House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) are generally houses split into bedsits, shared houses such as student houses or divided into some self-contained flats. For a more detailed definition see the Housing Act 2004.
What is an HMO?
- A house or flat which is occupied by 3 or more people who form 2 or more households, and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet or
- A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation, which is occupied by 3 or more people who form 2 or more households, and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities or;
- A converted house which contains a mix of self-contained and non self-contained accommodation (for example a flat within the house does not contain a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more people who form 2 or more households or;
- A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.
To be an HMO, the property must be used as the tenants' only or main residence. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence.
What is a 'Household'?
The Housing Act 2004 defines a 'household' as:
Members of the same family living together including:
- Couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex).
- Relatives living together, including parents, grandparents, children (and step-children), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins.
- Half relatives will be treated as full relatives. A foster child living with his foster parent is treated as living in the same household as his foster parent.
- Any domestic staff are also included in the household if they are living rent-free in accommodation provided by the person for whom they are working.
Therefore, three unrelated friends sharing together are considered to be three households. A couple sharing with a third unrelated person would constitute two households. A family renting a property is a single household. If that family had an au-pair to look after their children that person would be included in their household. A resident landlord and his family with 4 lodgers would be 5 households.
HMO's with 5 or more people, in 2 or more households, and with 3 or more storeys, will require a mandatory license.
A HMO will have to meet certain standards including:
- means of escape in case of fire and other fire precautions
- amenities such as kitchens, bathrooms toilets and wash hand basins
- overcrowding with regards to the number and size of rooms
- general fitness for occupation
- management standards
- gas safety
- furniture fire safety