Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) - advice for landlords

HMO standards

All managers and or owners of HMOs are bound by The Management of House in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006 No. 372)

The regulations impose duties on a person managing an HMO in respect of:

•    providing information to occupiers
•    taking safety measures, including fire safety measures
•    maintaining the water supply and drainage
•    supplying and maintaining gas and electricity, including having it regularly inspected
•    maintaining common parts (defined in regulation 7(6)), fixtures, fittings and appliances)
•    maintaining living accommodation and
•    providing waste disposal facilities

The regulations also impose duties on occupiers of an HMO for the purpose of ensuring that the person managing it can effectively carry out the duties imposed on them by these regulations.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005  places duties on the person having control of an HMO to have fire precautions in place, to make sure the property is safe and to carry out fire risk assessments.

Landlords should make sure

There are appropriate means of escape and fire detection systems according to the type of property and the way it is used. For example, a house containing individual bedsits each with cooking facilities will require a much higher level of protection than a shared house with a single kitchen.

All HMOs are required to meet minimum fire safety standards (LACORS) and amenity standards which are higher than a home occupied by a single family.

All private rented properties must be provided with a smoke alarm on each floor to detect a fire.

Landlords must make sure

  • The house is suitable for the number of occupants in terms of size and facilities
  • The manager of the house is considered to be a ‘fit and proper’, for example has no criminal record, has not breached housing laws or codes of practice
  • To arrange an Annual Gas Safety check by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and obtain an updated gas safety certificate every year
  • To arrange an electrical safety check by a qualified electrician at least every five years and obtain an updated Periodic Electrical Installation Condition Report
  • To install and maintain smoke alarms on each floor and if necessary in each room (a heat detector in a kitchen)
  • To obtain safety certificates for all portable electrical appliances
  • To provide sufficient refuse bins accessible to tenants, and written information to all tenants about the proper storage of household waste and recycling material and collection arrangements

Overcrowding in HMO's

The number of people occupying an HMO must not exceed the maximum specified in the licence or in the case of a non-licensable HMO the maximum determined by the sizes of the rooms.


Creating an HMO may require planning permission and/or building control approval. It will then be subject to the local authority's adopted standards and licence scheme for HMOs.


You need a licence from us if you rent a property to tenants as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), which:

  • has at least 5 tenants living there, forming more than 1 household
  • has shared facilities between tenants such as a toilet, bathroom or kitchen

A licence is valid for five years and must be renewed before it runs out.

Please see the Housing Act 2004  for a full definition.

Apply for HMO licence

Further information

Housing enforcement


Tel: 0300 303 8657

Fax: 020 8313 4450

Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH