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Houses in multiple occupation

Landlords and letting agents have a general duty of care to ensure that the accommodation they offer for rent does not have a detrimental effect on the health, safety and welfare of their tenants. All dwellings should also provide a safe and healthy environment for occupants and visitors.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) definition

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) comprise property known as bedsits, lodgings, shared houses and some converted self-contained flats. The main feature is that there is sharing of facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms/WCs so that occupiers do not have exclusive use of their own facilities.

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a new definition that also includes pre-1991 Building Regulation buildings converted into self-contained flats providing the conversions have not since been brought up to the Building Regulation standard and more than 1/3rd of the flats are let on short tenancies. These HMOs are called Section 257 HMOs. There are additional management regulations which now apply to these converted blocks of flats.

In summary an HMO is either:

  • a house that is occupied by three or more unrelated persons who share amenities such as the bathroom and/or kitchen, or
  • a building converted into non-compliant self-contained flats prior to June 1992 (when the Building Regulations 1991 came into force) where more than one-third of the flats are rented.

A full definition can be found in section 254 and schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004.