Multiple Occupation

Multiple Occupation

“HMOs & Private Landlords”

Multiple Occupation

As a Landlord, you might well have heard the term HMO – Houses in Multiple Occupation – mentioned by your Letting agent.  What exactly is an HMO?  What are the implications for the private Landlord?


HMOs (or Houses in Multiple Occupation) have a specific meaning in terms of the legislation that applies to it.

A property is considered to be in multiple occupation if the following conditions are met:

  1. At least three Tenants live in the property
  2. More than one household exists at the property
  3. Tenants share the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

Additionally, the property falls under the category of a “Large HMO” if:

  1. The property is more than three storeys high
  2. At least five Tenants live in the property

(A “household” is either a single person or members of the same family who live together.  In addition, it includes people who are married or living together and people in same-sex relationships.)

As an HMO Landlord, you must be licensed in respect of each HMO property, with licences valid for five years.

Minimum Standards

As Landlord, you must meet certain reasonable minimum standards in order to fulfil the obligations of the licence.

You must:

1. Tenants

Confirm that the property is suitable for the number of Tenants in occupation (e.g. size and facilities)

2. Manager

Appoint a “manager” – either yourself or your agent.  That person must be ‘a fit person’, e.g. no criminal record, breach of Landlord laws nor other criteria

3. Gas Safety Certificate

Send an updated gas certificate to the Council every year

4. Smoke Alarm/s

Install and maintain smoke alarm/s

5. Electrical Appliances

Provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested

Interpreting what is regarded as “reasonable” is complex.  You must also understand the time limits involved and numerous other aspects of HMOs.


Fines of up to £20,000 can be imposed if you get it wrong. And yes … Councils DO impose them, as a recent case in Birmingham proved with fines and Tenant compensation totalling over £180,000. Even one electrical appliance left untested can result in a £1,000 fine.

Our Sussex Lettings Agency specialises in HMOs.  If you have any question as to how to get the most out of this lucrative but complex niche market, contact us on 01273 735237 or email .  We’d be happy to advise.