What is an HMO?

Under the Housing Act 2004, if you let a property which is one of the following types, it is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Properties occupied by three or more occupants who form two or more households are generally regarded as being a HMO, examples are:

  • an entire house or flat which is occupied by three or more persons, who form two or more households, and they share any of the basic amenities such as a toilet, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities
  • a house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation, which is occupied by three or more persons who form two or more households, and they share any of the basic  amenities such as a toilet, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities
  • a converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained (this means that the flat may not have its own toilet, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities) and which is occupied by three or more persons who form two or more households
  • a building which has been converted entirely into self-contained flats where 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

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

Some HMOs require a mandatory licence?

If you rent out a property to five or more persons in two or more households and they share any of the basic amenities such as a toilet, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities, or where any of the basic amenities are not located within a flat, you must have a mandatory HMO licence. More information on HMO licensing and how to apply can be found on the house in multiple occupation licence page.

What is a 'household?

The following are 'households' for the purposes of the Housing Act 2004:

Members of the same family living together including:

  • couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex).
  • relatives living together, including parents, grandparents, children (and step-children), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins.
  • half-relatives will be treated as full relatives. A foster child living with his foster parent is treated as living in the same household as his foster parent.

Any domestic staff are also included in the household if they are living rent-free in accommodation provided by the person for whom they are working.

Regulations, Standards and Guidance for HMOs

A HMO must meet certain standards in terms of safety, size, amenities, fire precautions, means of escape from fire and kept in a good state of repair. The council may also carry out an assessment of a property which is done under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. (‘HHSRS’)

HMO management regulations for bedsit and shared houses/flats

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 applies to any HMO that is in bedsits or a shared house and require the person managing the HMO to ensure that the property is maintained in a safe condition. They must also ensure that gas and electricity supplies are maintained and that reasonable standards of management are applied.

HMO management regulations for self contained flats

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 applies to any HMO which is a converted building that consist entirely of self-contained flats that do not meet the requirements of the 1991 Building Regulations.  These HMO regulations require the person managing such properties to ensure that the property is maintained in a safe condition. They must also ensure that gas and electricity supplies are maintained and that reasonable standards of management are applied.

What is meant by 'Person Managing'?

The definition of a “person managing” a HMO is found in section 263(3) of the Housing Act 2004.  In brief, it is the owner of the HMO and any other person such as an agent, who receives rent or any other payment either directly or indirectly from the occupiers of the HMO, on behalf of the owner.

Standards and guidance for HMOs

To assist landlords and persons managing a HMO, the council have provided information on how to meet the appropriate standards, amenities and health and safety which can be found in the Standards and Guidance for HMOs.

Unfortunately it is never the case that one type of HMO fits all due to different types of buildings being formed as a HMO or converted into a HMO. Therefore in the first instance you should view the attached document to understand the basic requirements and the best guidance for any HMO.

You can contact the HMO team to discuss any questions or queries you have by emailing [email protected]   

Certain types of properties are not HMOs (excluding HHSRS)

Certain types of properties will not be classed as a HMO for the purpose of the Housing Act 2004 and as such will be exempt. However the Housing Health and Safety Rating System will still apply.

A full list of properties which are not HMOs for the purposes of the Housing Act 2004 can be found in Schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004, as amended by the Localism Act 2011 under section 185.

These include:

  • two person flat share – a property, or part of a property, occupied by no more than two “households”
  • a property where the landlord and their family live with up to two lodgers
  • buildings occupied entirely by freeholders or long leaseholders
  • buildings owned or managed by a public body (such as the NHS or police), a local housing authority or a registered social landlord
  • a building where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the main use of the building, for example, religious buildings, conference centres etc. Buildings which are already regulated (and where the description of the building is specified in regulations), such as care homes, bail hostels etc. Domestic refuges are not exempt
  • buildings which are already regulated (and where the description of the building is specified in regulations), such as care homes, bail hostels etc. Domestic refuges are not exempt
  • certain buildings that are controlled or managed by a co-operative society

More information

For further information on house in multiple occupation please email [email protected]

You can also write to:

Housing Standards Team
PO Box 290
Brighton Street
Wirral
CH27 9FQ

Apply for a licence

If you rent out a HMO, you may require a licence from Wirral Council.