Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

What is a HMO?

The full definition of a HMO can be found in the Housing Act 2004 under section 254. For guidance, a property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if it is;

  • An entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet;
  • A house converted into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation, which are let individually to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities;
  • A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not fully self-contained (where the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households;
  • 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. The definition for dwellings converted to self-contained flats is found under section 257 of the Housing Act 2004.

In order to be a HMO the property must also be used as the tenants' only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants.  Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges.  The full definition of what constitutes a tenants only or main residence can be found in the Housing Act 2004 under section 259.

What is a household?

The full definition of a household can be found in the Housing Act 2004 under section 258 For guidance, a household is defined as:

  • couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or equivalent relationship in the case of people 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 the accommodation provided by the person they are working for

Examples

  • three friends sharing together count as three households
  • if a couple are sharing with a third person, that would consist of two households
  • if a family rents a property, that is a single household
  • if that family had a live-in au pair to look after their children, that person would be included in their household

Last Updated: 31 August 2021