Houses in multiple occupation
A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a dwelling; or part of a building such as a house or a flat that is occupied by unrelated people and where they share basic amenities, such as a toilet, or personal washing and cooking facilities. Bedsit accommodation and houses occupied by sharers where there is no family relationship are examples of HMOs.
A HMO is defined under sections 254 and 257 of the Housing Act 2004. An HMO can be a building or part of a building if it is:
- occupied by persons who form more than one household and where those persons share (or lack) one or more basic amenity, such as a WC, personal washing and cooking facilities.
- a converted building containing one or more units of accommodation that do not consist entirely of self-contained flats. There is no requirement that the occupiers share facilities.
- a converted building consisting entirely of self-contained flats, where the building work undertaken in connection with the conversion did not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies.
To be classified as an HMO, the house must be occupied by more than one household:
- as their only or main residence
- as a refuge
- by students during term time
- for another purpose that is described in regulations
- occupation as living accommodation must be the only use of the accommodation
- rents are payable or other considerations are provided.
Under the Housing Act 2004, a household comprises:
- a single person
- co-habiting couples (whether or not of the opposite sex)
- a family (including foster children and children being cared for) and current domestic employees.
The Housing Act 2004 requires that, in general, all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) of three storeys or more, with five or more occupants must be licensed.
There are some exceptions, but these do not apply to private landlords. Full definitions can be found in the Act and the subsequent regulations made under the Act.
There is a fee for licensing each HMO, which should reflect the actual cost of administering the licensing process.
The fee structure for an HMO licence is:
Licence for a standard 5 bedroom HMO (initiated by the applicant without local authority intervention)
per Licence (5 years)
Licence for a standard 5 bedroom HMO (initiated with local authority intervention)
per Licence (5 years)
£15.00 per room
Production of drawings
Variation of licence
Renewal of HMO licence
£500.00 (5 years)
Fee reduction for additional HMOs with the same applicant/landlord
The fees will be periodically reviewed to ensure that they reflect the costs involved in the licensing process and to take account of inflation, etc. as necessary. It is anticipated that, in general, a licence will be issued for a five-year period. This is the maximum period a licence may be granted for. However, there may be situations where it is appropriate for the licence to be granted for a shorter period. This would be the exception rather than the rule.
Anyone operating a licensable HMO without either having a licence or having made a valid application for a licence will be committing an offence and will be open to prosecution. The fine for such an offence could be up to a maximum of £20,000.
Smaller HMOs, those with less than three storeys and/or less than five occupants, do not require a license. However, these properties are still HMOs and still need to be managed correctly. The new legislation allows councils to introduce additional or selective licensing to cover other types of property or smaller HMOs in designated areas. Dacorum Borough Council currently has no plans to introduce any of these extra licensing schemes. However, smaller HMOs will be inspected periodically to ensure that management and amenity standards, etc. are being met.
The Council has a proactive inspection programme of HMOs. If conditions in the properties inspected are not up to standard, the landlord or owner is required to improve them.
The regulations state that it shall be the responsibility of the manager of the HMO to ensure that the following are maintained in repair, clean condition and good order (including, where appropriate, proper working order). HMO's are governed by specific fire regulations. All HMO's should have a current fire safety risk assessment in place. This questionnaire should assist you in considering the risks of fire.
For more information please contact 01442 228476