House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

What is a HMO?

A property is classed as a HMO, or house in multiple occupation, if there are at least 3 tenants living there, forming more than 1 household.

A property would be considered a large HMO if it is at least 2 storeys high and has at least 8 tenants living there. In both circumstances, you will require change of use for that property, the tenants would need to share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities to be considered a HMO.

If you own a large HMO, you must meet certain standards and adhere to specific obligations.


An HMO could be:

  • a house split into separate bedsits
  • a shared house or flat, where the sharers are not members of the same family
  • a bed-and-breakfast hotel that is not just for holidays
  • shared accommodation for students (halls of residence and other types of student accommodation owned by educational establishments are not classed as HMOs)


What is considered a household?
A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together, tenants would be considered of separate households if they do not know one another or did not apply for the property under the agreement to hold the lease jointly.




Landlord Obligations

What are my responsibilities as the Landlord? As the Landlord of a HMO, you have extra legal responsibilities compared to that of a landlord with a standard let. These added regulations are in place to reduce risk of fire and ensure decent facilities for tenants.


These responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring proper fire safety measures are in place and smoke detectors are installed
  • Ensuring the annual gas safety checks are carried out
  • Ensuring electrical checks are carried out every 5 years
  • Ensuring the property is not overcrowded
  • Ensuring there are adequate cooking and washing facilities
  • Ensuring communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair
  • Ensuring there are enough rubbish bins or bags
  • Arranging any repairs to the communal areas, the structure and exterior of the house, windows, gutters, electrical wiring, water pipes, gas pipework, heaters, radiators and bathroom suites.


What maintenance is the tenant liable for?

Tenants are only responsible for minor repairs to the living areas and for fixing any items they own.


HMO License

Do I need a license?

As the landlord of a HMO, you must get a license from the council if the HMO:

  • is at least 2 storeys high
  • has 5 or more unrelated people live in it
  • has 2 or more separate households living there

Some councils also require other HMOs to be licensed. Please check with your local council to find out what the requirements are in your area.



How much does license cost?

The cost of a license depends on the size of the property. A license for a HMO with 5 tenants or more is approx. £1000


How long does the license last for?

Licenses usually last for 5 years but some councils will allow them to run for shorter periods.


What do I need to do to ensure I can get a license?

When deciding whether to issue or renew a license, the council checks that:

  • The property meets an acceptable standard. For example, it looks at whether the property is large enough for the occupants and if it is well managed.
  • The landlord is a 'fit and proper' person.


What will happen if I do not have a license?

If you own a HMO that should be licensed but isn't, you can be fined and ordered to repay up to 30,000.

Many people living in HMOs have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). If your tenants have an AST and the HMO should be licensed but isn't, any section 21 notice (two months' notice) you serve is not valid.

Licenses and terms vary depending on your local council. The information provided is based on the council of Northampton and is only a guide. Please contact your local council for full details.


Where to Start

How to turn my property into a HMO?

Not every property is suitable to become a HMO, however as every house is individual it is best to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced specialists. They will be able to provide you with expert advice and help to lead you in the right direction.


How can I find tenants for a HMO?

By contacting Chris Smart ANAEA at Barker and Smart EA HMO Specialists. We advertise on multiple property portals and thoroughly reference our applicants in order to ensure we find suitable tenants for your property.


How long does it take to fill a HMO?

Depending on the size of the property, location and demand, it can take up to 2-4 weeks to fill a HMO on average.


Where can I get advice about HMOs’?

Barker and Smart EA HMO Specialists, of course!

  • Market appraisals carried out by experienced professionals
  • Professional, full colour A4 and A3 property particulars
  • Dedicated sales progression team
  • Regular updates and viewing feedback
  • Extensive online presence through numerous property portals
  • Free floor plans
  • Free financial advice from our finance team at Pro Advice Financial Services
  • Regular email updates whether you are looking to buy or sell with us
  • No Sale, No Fee