2.9 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Special requirements apply to types of properties known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which place special responsibilities on landlords and agents.
2.9.1 Definition of an HMO
An HMO is defined in sections 254-259 of the Housing Act 2004. In simple terms, an HMO is a building, or part of a building, such as a flat, that:
- is occupied by more than one household and where the occupants share, lack, or must leave their front door to use an amenity such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities
- is occupied by more than one household in a converted building where not all the flats are self-contained. ‘Self-contained’ means that all amenities such as kitchen, bathroom and WC are behind the entrance door to the flat
- is a converted block of self-contained flats, but does not meet the requirements of the Building Regulations 1991, and less than two thirds of flats are owner-occupied.
The households must occupy the building as their only or main residence (remembering that tenants can have more than one main residence) and rent must be payable in respect of at least one of the household’s occupation of the property.
Generally a household is a family (including co-habiting and same-sex couples or other relationship, such as fostering, carers and domestic staff). The definition of a family also includes parent, grandparent, child, stepchild, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, cousin and ‘a relationship of the half-blood shall be treated as a relationship of the whole blood’.
Each unrelated tenant sharing a property will be considered a single household.
Properties which are shared by two individuals are exempt from the HMO definition as are those with a resident landlord with no more than two lodgers.
A self-contained unit is one which has a kitchen (or cooking area), bathroom and toilet for the exclusive use of the household living in the unit. If the occupiers needs to leave the unit to gain access to any one of these amenities then the unit is not self-contained.
A simple example of an HMO would be Janet, Jane and Jane’s baby living in a property where Janet and Jane are just friends. Janet, Jane and the baby would be an HMO because there are 3 people and they are not all related to each other. Jane and the baby may be related but Janet is not related to either of them so they are “not all related to each other”. To complicate matters, if Janet and Jane were a couple (living together as married), that would not be an HMO because they would be one household due to being regarded as related to each other, including the baby.