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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

    What is Multiple Occupation?

    The following types of letting arrangements are known as Houses in Multiple Occupation:

    • An entire house or flat which is let to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
    • A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and is let to 3 or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities.
    • A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self-contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more tenants who form two or more households.
    • A building that is converted entirely into self-contained flats, if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.

    In order to be a HMO, the property must be used as the tenants’ only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants.

    Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties that are used as domestic refuges.

    What is a household?

    A household is where members of the same family are living together. Therefore three friends sharing together are considered three households. A couple sharing with a third person would amount to two households. If a family rents a property then it is a single household. If that family had an au-pair to look after their children that person would be included in their household.

    What are landlords of HMOs responsible for?

    Landlords are responsible for the day-to-day management of a HMO, such as keeping common parts in a safe, clean condition and all shared facilities in good repair.  For more information on all HMO landlord responsibilities view the Management Regulations 2006 (pdf 28kb).

    The Housing Act 2004 also introduced licensing for certain categories of HMOs. Certain owners are now responsible for applying for a licence and will need to meet national minimum amenity standards (ie bathrooms and kitchens).

    How do I know if my HMO requires a licence?

    Not all HMOs require a licence.  If you can answer yes to all of the following 3 questions your property will need a licence:

    1. Does the property have three or more stories (including habitable attics or basements and any business premises or storage space on the ground floor or any upper floor)?
    2. Does your property have five or more people in more than one household?
    3. Do the tenants share amenities such as bathrooms or kitchens?

    How can landlords apply for a HMO licence?

    To find out how to apply for a licence visit our HMO licensing page.

    A licence will be granted where it can be evidenced that:

    • The proposed licence holder and any manager of the property is a fit and proper person
    • Proper management standards are being applied at the property
    • The HMO meets the minimum national standards for the number of tenants.

    What are the minimum standards for licensable HMOs?

    Similar to other rented property, landlords of HMOs must ensure minimum health and safety and amenity standards are maintained. Health and safety risks are higher in HMOs than in any other properties, so landlords have increased responsibilities to minimise these risks.  These are outlined in the Licensed HMO Management Regulations 2007 (pdf 67kb).

    Inspection of HMOs

    Stafford Borough Council’s Housing Standards Team inspects HMOs at regular intervals to ensure all the standards are being complied with. Officers have strong legal powers to enforce these standards, where necessary. The frequency of inspection is determined by the level of risk found to exist at the property ie if a property is well managed and has fewer residents, it will be inspected less frequently.  

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