What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

A House in Multiple Occupation(HMO) is a building, or part of a building, that:

  • Is occupied by individuals who do not form a single household, and
  • Is occupied by those individuals as their only or main residence, and
  • Rent is payable by at least one of the occupiers, and
  • Two or more households share one or more basic amenities.

Purpose built blocks of self-contained flats are not HMOs, but houses or buildings that have been converted into a block of flats may be a HMO if:

  • The standard of conversion does not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations; and
  • Less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied.

Please be aware that there are changes to Mandatory HMO Licensing which came into effect on 1 October 2018.

HMO Standards

All HMOs must be free from Category 1 Hazards as assessed under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), but there are additional requirements covering adequate fire precautions, means of escape in case of fire and appropriate standards of management and amenities. Please see attached space and amenity standard.

HMO Mandatory Licensing

Properties must be licensed by us if the property is let to five or more persons who form two or more households.

It is an offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence. You cannot legally collect any rent on the property and you may be prosecuted. You may also have to repay any rent received over the previous 12 month period.

Licence Fees

The HMO Licence fee is £350.00. The licence requires renewal every five years.

Licence Requirements

To obtain a licence, we must be satisfied that:

  • The property meets the current housing and fire safety standards to ensure it is safe for tenants
  • The property meets amenity standards, such as an adequate number of bathrooms and cooking facilities
  • The landlord or managing agent is a 'fit and proper' person
  • The property and tenancy agreements are managed appropriately

The following documentation must be provided:

  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • Electrical Condition Report
  • A floor plan with all rooms labelled, such as bedroom, kitchen, etc and the dimensions for each room
  •  

Apply for an HMO licence

You can pay and apply for a licence or change an existing licence online on GOV.UK:

Apply to License a House in Multiple Occupation

Change a Licence for a House in Multiple Occupation

Changes to HMO licensing

The scope of mandatory HMO licensing will be extended to cover certain HMOs, including flats, occupied by five or more persons in two or more households, regardless of the number of storeys.

The details are contained in the The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018.

If you manage a property coming under this new definition you must apply for a licence by 1 October 2018.

Reporting disrepair or poor conditions

If you live in a HMO and feel there are any unreasonable hazards which your private landlord is not dealing with, please email us at dfg@swdevon.gov.uk  You will need to have contacted the landlord in writing first, to give them an opportunity to deal with the issue.

Wherever possible we'll work with you and your landlord to improve the property but if this fails we can use enforcement powers.

Why are HMOs treated differently to other rented properties?

Fire safety is one of the risk categories which is included in the HHSRS assessment for all homes because national statistics show that fire is a major cause of fatality and injury in residential premises. The risk of fire is assessed regardless of whether a property is in multiple occupation or occupied by a single family.

The greatest risks to occupiers are to be found in multi-occupied properties where there are three or more storeys. This may include houses that are converted into flats, hostels, managed or sheltered accommodation, purpose built multi-storey buildings and flats above shops. The risk rises with increased occupancy, multiple ignition sources (cookers, heaters, fires, smoking), vulnerable occupants, poor construction and lack of fire prevention measures.

Analysis of national fire statistics have concluded:

  • You are six times more likely to die in a fire if you live in any house in multiple occupation (HMO), compared with a single family house.
  • The risk increases to sixteen times more at risk of fatal injury if you live in an HMO which is three or more storeys high.