What is a ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO)?
The definition of what is an HMO is given in the Housing Act 2004.
Premises classed as HMOs are:
- A house or a self-contained flat in which three or more people forming two or more households share some basic facilities, such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
- A building which comprises one or more units of non-self-contained accommodation in which three or more people forming two or more households share some basic amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
- A converted building which comprises one or more units of accommodation that which are not self-contained flats and which is occupied by three or more people forming two or more households (even if it also contains self-contained flats as well).
- Buildings that comprise self-contained flats which do not meet certain criteria about their construction based on the 1991 Building Regulations standard (known as Section 257 HMOs), where less than two thirds of flats are owner occupied.
A household is generally taken to mean a single person, cohabiting partners or people living together who are members of the same family. There are circumstances where people will be regarded as a single family where they are not related, for example where accommodation is provided for a carer, au pair, nanny etc. Two unrelated persons sharing a flat or house would not constitute an HMO.
To be classed as 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 being their only or main residence, as would properties used as domestic refuges and hostels.
Does my HMO require a licence?
The Council operates a Mandatory HMO licensing scheme. Most* landlords of HMOs that have five or more occupiers forming two or more households require a licence. This previously only applied to properties with three or more stories (including habitable basements and attics) but from 1 October 2018 HMOs with five or more occupiers forming two or more households regardless of the number of storeys will be subject to HMO licensing. This means that:
- HMOs with five or more occupiers forming two or more households
- Flats within a converted building, where the flat itself is an HMO with five or more occupiers forming two or more households, and
- Flats within purpose built blocks with either one or two flats, where the flat is an HMO with five or more occupiers forming two or more households, will require an HMO licence.
If you own or manage an HMO that meets the new criteria for mandatory licensing you must apply for a licence before 1 October 2018. Landlords who fail to apply for a licence by 1 October 2018 will be committing an offence from that date.
If you own or manage an HMO which fell under the previous requirements for HMO licensing and you do not currently hold a licence you are already committing an offence and you must apply immediately.
Failing to licence a property is a criminal offence which, on conviction, may lead to an unlimited fine or a civil penalty of up to £30,000. You could also be subject to a Rent Repayment Order for the period that the property was unlicensed.
*There are some exemptions from licensing. For example properties managed by Local Authorities and Registered Housing Providers such as Housing Associations do not require a licence.
Applications for licenses must be accompanied by the correct fee: Mandatory HMO Licence Fees and Charges.
HMO licence application form
You must renew your licence before the current one expires. Incomplete applications and applications not accompanied by the correct fee will not be accepted. Once a valid application is received, we will arrange an inspection of the property and then prepare a draft licence and a 'Proposal Notice'. There is a 21 day consultation period and if you disagree with any conditions on the draft licence you can make representation against the condition(s). If this happens we may amend the licence as requested or reject the representation.
We seek to consider valid applications for an HMO licence within 90 days of receiving all the relevant application information (including fee). If, due to the circumstances of an individual application, we are unable to consider the application within this time period we will notify the applicant and state what the extended time period will be.
The actual licence and a 'Decision Notice' is then issued. There is a further right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against conditions on the licence. This must be done within 28 days of the issuing of the Decision Notice.
An HMO licence will generally run for 5 years but we may issue a licence for a shorter period in some circumstances, for example if we have concerns over the management arrangements.
For further information in connection with licensing:
HMO Management Regulations
DASH (external website)
EMPO (external website)
HMO licencing guide for landlords
From 1 October 2018 the following measures regarding minimum sizes for rooms used as sleeping accommodation will be included as mandatory licensing conditions:
- The floor area for any room used as sleeping accommodation by a single person aged under 10 years is not to be less than 4.64m2
- The floor area for any room used as sleeping accommodation by a single person aged over 10 years is not to be less than 6.51m2
- The floor area for any room used as sleeping accommodation by two people aged over 10 years is not to be less than 10.22m2
Communal space in other parts of the HMO cannot be used to compensate for rooms smaller than the prescribed minimum. These mandatory room size conditions are the statutory minimum below which rooms cannot be used as sleeping accommodation and are not intended to be the optimal room size. Local Housing Authorities will continue to have discretion to set their own higher standards. For our space guidelines please refer to the DASH Amenity Guide for HMOs
Ashfield Council provide guidance and support through officers within the Private Sector Enforcement team who can allow some flexibility in certain circumstances on the room size as we as a Council aim to ensure that the quality of accommodation within the district is to a high standard which promotes positive health and well-being outcomes for the occupants and promote minimum room sizes of 8m² where applicable , please contact the team for advice on this matter , 01623 457345 or email email@example.com
The new licence conditions will also require landlords and agents to have appropriate arrangements in place for the storage and disposal of household waste.
If you would like to know more about how we administer HMO licensing within Ashfield Council , please email the Private Sector Enforcement Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01623 457345 .
Are there any regulations that cover the management of HMOs?
The Housing Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) other than Section 257 HMOs as these have their own, broadly similar, management regulations.
These regulations place a number of duties upon the manager of an HMO. Both landlords and managing agents should make sure they comply with these regulations at all times.
Failing to comply with the HMO management regulations may result in prosecution and an unlimited fine or a civil penalty of up to £30,000.
If you need more information about the management regulations please email the Private Sector Enforcement Team at email@example.com or phone 01623 457345 .
What about amenities and space in HMOs?
We require that all HMOs have adequate levels of amenities and space. The property must have rooms of sufficient size and have enough kitchen facilities, bathrooms and toilets for the number of people living there. View our Amenities and space guidance.
HMO Amenities and Space
If you have any questions about amenities and space in HMOs please email the Private Sector Enforcement Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01623 457345 .
Smaller shared houses will usually be assessed as one unit but in bigger HMOs an HHSRS assessment will be carried out for each unit within the HMO. The common parts of an HMO such as the hall, staircases, landings and any shared rooms will be regarded as part of the living unit for the purposes of the assessment.
One of the most important hazards to be assessed in a bedsit type HMO is fire, as the risks are several times higher than in an ordinary family home. When enforcing fire safety standards in dwellings, the Housing Standards Team refer to the LACORS Housing - Fire Safety guide:
LACORS Fire Safety guide
Advice for tenants about fire safety can be found in the Fire Safety leaflet below:
Fire Safety - Shared Accomodation
If you have any more questions about fire safety in HMOs please email the Private Sector Enforcement Team at email@example.com or phone 01623 457345 .