Houses in Multiple Occupation



What is a House in Multiple Occupation?


The Housing Act 2004 defines a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) as:


  • A house or flat which is occupied by 3 or more people who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet or; 
  • A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is occupied by 3 or more people who form 2 or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities or;
  • A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self-contained (i.e. the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more people who form 2 or more households or;
  • 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.


Also, in order to be an HMO, the property must be used as the tenants' only or main residence.  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 or for other purposes prescribed by the government.


The following are 'households' for the purposes of the Housing Act 2004:


Members of the same family living together including:


  • Couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons 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 accommodation provided by the person for whom they are working.


Therefore, three unrelated friends sharing together are considered to be three households.  A couple sharing with a third unrelated person would constitute two households.  A family renting a property is a single household.  If that family had an au-pair to look after their children that person would be included in their household.

 Some HMO's are required to be licensed from 6th April 2006.  You can find more details about the Mandatory Licensing of HMOs here.

 The Housing Act 2004 also reviewed some of the Regulations which apply to HMOs.

 The Housing Health and Safety Rating System also applies to all HMOs from April 2004.

 Jump to: Mandatory Licensing of HMOs | Housing Inspections | Tenants' Passport Scheme