Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

An HMO is a house or flat which is occupied by three or more people forming two or more households, which means that at least one of the occupiers is not related to the others (two if the owner lives in the property with them).

What is an HMO?

To be an HMO some facilities must be shared, such as a toilet, bathroom or kitchen. In other words, the occupiers do not have these facilities self-contained within their personal accommodation.

We maintain a register of licensed HMOs in the borough.

Advice for tenants

Advice for landlords

HMO landlords must comply with the HMO Management Regulations(pdf, 89KB) and the local Minimum Amenity Standards(pdf, 380KB).

The Regulations impose duties on a person managing an HMO in respect of:

  • providing information to occupiers
  • taking safety measures, including fire safety
  • maintaining the water supply and drainage
  • supplying and maintaining gas and electricity, including having it regularly inspected
  • maintaining common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances
  • maintaining living accommodation and
  • providing waste disposal facilities

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places duties on the person having control of an HMO to have fire precautions in place, to make sure the property is safe and to carry out fire risk assessments.

Landlords should read the Guidance for Fire Safety(pdf, 1455KB) and make sure there are appropriate means of escape and fire detection systems according to the type of property and the way it is used. For example, a house containing individual bedsits each with cooking facilities will require a much higher level of protection than a shared house with a single kitchen.

You must make sure:

  • The house is suitable for the number of occupants in terms of size and facilities
  • The manager of the house is considered to be a ‘fit and proper’, for example has no criminal record, has not breached housing laws or codes of practice

You must also:

  • Arrange an Annual Gas Safety check by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and obtain an updated gas safety certificate every year
  • Arrange an electrical safety check by a qualified electrician at least every five years and obtain an updated Periodic Electrical Installation Condition Report
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms on each floor and if necessary in each room (a heat detector in a kitchen)
  • Obtain safety certificates for all portable electrical appliances
  • Provide enough refuse bins for tenants, and written information about the proper storage and collection arrangements of household waste and recycling material

HMO licences

An HMO licence is required if all of the following apply:

  • It has five or more people in more than one household
  • Some or all of the occupants share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets or cooking facilities
  • At least one of the occupants pays rent (or the accommodation is linked to their employment)
  • It is the occupiers' main residence
  • It is not an exempt property such as a student hall of residence, or owned or managed by the council, a social landlord or the NHS
  • It has three or more storeys (however from 1 October 2018, the “three or more storeys” element will no longer apply as the government has changed the criteria for mandatory HMO licensing)

From 1 October 2018, it will be compulsory to obtain an HMO licence for all HMOs which meet the criteria above and HMOs that:

  • have five or more occupiers, regardless of number of storeys, or
  • are a flat in multiple occupation (if they have five or more occupiers) above or below a business, or
  • are a purpose built flat where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied as an HMO

Apply for an HMO licence


Telephone: 020 8487 5123

Updated: 22 May 2018