HMO Licensing

The Housing Act 2004 introduced the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation. Local Authorities are required to license larger, higher risk HMOs, which initially will comprise those of three stories and above occupied by at least five persons who constitute more than one household.

  1. Definition of an HMO

    The Housing Act 2004 introduces a new definition of what constitutes a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). A House in Multiple Occupation means a building (or part of a building, such as a flat), that;

    • Is occupied by more than one household and where more than one household shares, or lacks an amenity, such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities.
    • Is occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building, but not entirely into self contained flats (whether or not some amenities are shared or lacking).
    • Is converted self contained flats, but does not meet as a minimum standard the requirements of the 1991 Building Regulations, and at least one third of flats are occupied under short tenancies.
  2. Definition of an HMO

    The Housing Act 2004 introduces a new definition of what constitutes a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). A House in Multiple Occupation means a building (or part of a building, such as a flat), that;

    • Is occupied by more than one household and where more than one household shares, or lacks an amenity, such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities.
    • Is occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building, but not entirely into self contained flats (whether or not some amenities are shared or lacking).
    • Is converted self contained flats, but does not meet as a minimum standard the requirements of the 1991 Building Regulations, and at least one third of flats are occupied under short tenancies.
  3. The building may be occupied by more than one household:
    • As their only or main residence.
    • As a refuge of people escaping domestic violence.
    • By students during term time.

    For other purposes prescribed by the Government. Persons do not form a single household unless they are members of the same family or they form a prescribed relationship defined by regulations. A household refers to:

    Families (including single people, couples and same sex couples.)
    Other relationships, such as fostering, carers and domestic staff.

  4. Why the Need for HMO Licensing?

    Larger HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, often have poorer physical and management standards than other privately rented properties. The people who live in HMOs are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. As HMOs are the only housing option for many people, the government recognises that it is vital that they are properly regulated.

  5. Licensing is intended to ensure that;
    • Landlords of HMOs are “fit and proper people”, or employ managers who are.
    • Each HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence
    • The standard of management of the HMO is adequate.
    • High risk HMOs can be identified and targeted for improvement.

    Where Landlords refuse to meet these criteria the Council can intervene and manage the property so that:

    • Vulnerable Tenants can be protected.
    • HMOs are not overcrowded.
    • Which HMOs Need to Be Licensed?

    Compulsory (required by law) licensing of HMOs affects properties that are:

    • Three or more storeys high and
    • Have five or more people in more than one household and Share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.

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