A house in multiple occupation ( HMO ) is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

Depending on the type of HMO you have, you may need a licence from the local authority.

With effect from 1st October 2018, ‘The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018’, replaces ‘The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006’ (S.I. 2006/371) came into force. 

Its effect is that mandatory licensing will apply to HMOs that are below three storeys (as well as to those of three or more storeys) where the property:

  • is occupied by 5 or more persons; and
  • is occupied by persons living in two or more separate households; and
  • who share an amenity such as a kitchen, toilet, bathroom or lounge.

If the property consists of a mixture of self-contained flats and flats where the tenant has to exit their flat (usually through a communal area) to make use of an amenity, then this may require an HMO licence.

So, if you have a 3-bedroom HMO for example, you will not need an HMO licence.  However, you will still need to be aware of the Article 4 Direction which some, but not all, local authorities have adopted.

The Article 4 Direction refers to change of use Classes for HMO’s. It means that properties, within the specified area, need to obtain planning permission if they wanted to convert a Class C3 dwelling house into a Class C4 HMO.  This means even if there are only 3 people living in the HMO, you will need planning permission for the change from a private dwelling house (one family) to the HMO.

In addition to the planning/licencing obligations, Landlords of HMOs must make sure that:

  • proper fire safety measures are in place, including working smoke alarms
  • annual gas safety checks are carried out
  • electrics are checked every 5 years
  • the property is not overcrowded
  • there are enough cooking and bathroom facilities for the number living there
  • communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair
  • there are enough rubbish bins/bags.


The HMO landlord is responsible for any repairs to communal areas of your home and also for repairs to:

  • the structure and exterior of the house – including the walls, window frames and gutters
  • water and gas pipes
  • electrical wiring
  • basins, sinks, baths and toilets
  • fixed heaters (radiators) and water heaters


Since October 2018, councils now also have a minimum room size.

This general overview is not exhaustive, and you should fully research being a landlord of an HMO before starting any project.  This is a complex area of law, so it is advisable to contact Complete Property Deal who can discuss this with you.  A vast number of our clients purchase HMO’s and we have expertise in this area.


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