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Shared homes

Under the Housing Act 2004 your rented home is classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if:

  • you live there with other people who are not members of your close family - i.e. your spouse or partner, your parents, children or grandchildren, your siblings, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece, and
  • the home is your only or main residence (this includes you if you are a student undertaking a full-time course of further or higher education; if you are in a refuge; if you are being fostered or a child being cared for and if you are currently employed to provide domestic support e.g. nanny, au pair, servant), and
  • you pay rent
  • you and at least one other family, or household, share one or more basic amenities (toilet, personal washing facilities, cooking facilities etc.)

It does not matter whether you and your fellow tenants are all on one contract or if you are each on individual agreements.

Exemptions to HMO definitions

A building will not be an HMO if:

  • it is occupied by only two people
  • it is occupied by the owner (and their family if any) and one or two lodgers
  • it is occupied by a religious community
  • the occupiers have their own residences elsewhere
  • no one in the property is required to pay rent
  • the owner or manager is a public body
  • the owner or manager is an educational institution
  • a building of self contained flats if two thirds or more of the flats are owner-occupied
  • the property is part of a guesthouse or hostel (unless an ‘HMO Declaration’ is made)

Purpose built blocks of self contained flats are not HMOs, but houses or buildings which have been converted into a block of flats may be a HMO if:

  • the standard of conversion does not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations, and
  • less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied.

An individual flat can be classed as a Flat in Multiple Occupation (FMO) if the flat is lived in by people who belong to more than one family and who share one or more facilities

The full definition can be found in sections 254 and 259 of the Housing Act 2004

What is HMO licensing?

HMO Licensing is a mechanism for controlling, managing and improving standards in certain types of private rented accommodation.  If your landlord owns or manages a HMO which comprises three or more storeys and is occupied by five or more people who form two or more households, they must obtain a licence for the property under the Mandatory HMO licensing scheme.


We have to be satisfied that the HMO is suitable for occupation – in particular, we will look at kitchen and bathroom facilities, as well as fire precautions. If the HMO does not meet the standards, we may award a license with a condition requiring provision of additional facilities. 
We must also be satisfied that the landlord is a fit and proper person. The proposed manager [if there is one] must also be fit and proper and have a sufficient level of competence. Management structures and funding arrangements must be suitable. If we are not satisfied on these matters, we will not award a license.

Public register of HMOs

We must, by law, keep a register of all licensed HMOs, all Temporary Exemption Notices and all Management Orders.

Page updated on: 03/05/2016

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