General standards for Houses in Multiple Occupation

Planning Permission

Before the Department can advise on or ensure the implementation of the relevant standards for an individual HMO it will be necessary to contact the Director of Technical Services to establish whether or not planning consent will be required.


All habitable rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and water closets should have natural lighting equivalent to 1/10th of the total floor area where possible. All of the above and staircases and passages should have adequate artificial lighting.


All habitable rooms should have natural ventilation equivalent to 1/20th of the room floor area, and background ventilation of at least 8000 mm².

All kitchens where natural ventilation is less than 1/20th of the floor area should be provided with at least 4000 mm² back ground ventilation and mechanical extract ventilation capable of an extraction rate of 30 litres/second or passive stack ventilation.

All bathrooms where natural ventilation is less than 1/20th of the floor area should be provided with at least 4000 mm² back ground ventilation and mechanical extract ventilation capable of an extraction rate of 15 litres/second or passive stack ventilation.

Space heating

A fixed heating system must be provided capable of maintaining a minimum internal temperature of 19 degrees Centigrade.

Gas safety

Incorrectly installed or poorly maintained gas installations can kill.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations place a legal responsibility on the owner of a gas appliance in a HMO to have it serviced annually by a Gassafe registered company.

The Council will ask you to provide original copies of the gas safety record. Matters of non compliance are referred to the Health and Safety executive who are the enforcing authority.

Personal washing facilities

Each flat must be provided with a bath or shower, a wash hand basin and water closet. A wholesome (mains) supply of cold water and a constant, permanent supply of hot water to be maintained.

Facilities for the storage, preparation and cooking of food

Each Flat should have its own kitchen facility with a sink serviced by a wholesome (mains) supply of cold water and a constant and a permanent supply of hot water, a gas or electric cooker point and a permanent, impermeable work surface, of an area not less than 1000 mm x 500 mm.

Each flat should be provided with adequate dry food store of not less than 300 mm³ and a refrigerator.

Refuse storage and disposal

A waste receptacle suitable to the Council (wheelie bin) is to be provided for each flat. All containers should be situated on a hardstanding with appropriate access for removal of the containers and cleansing of the area.


Guidance issued in relation to the Housing Act 2004 recommends that:

Two room letting with living / sleeping and separate cooking:

  • 1 person - 12 m² (135 ft²) minimum living / sleeping room floor area
  • 2 person - 16 m² (180 ft²) minimum living / sleeping room floor area

Two room letting with kitchen / living room and separate bedroom:

  • 1 person - 6 m² (70 ft²) bedroom 11 m² (120 ft²) kitchen / living room
  • 2 person - 11 m² (120 ft²) bedroom 15 m² (160 ft²) kitchen / living room

Means of escape from fire and other fire precautions

The risk of fire in a HMO is far greater than that of a house occupied by a single family. It is therefore necessary to implement adequate precautions to ensure that tenants are warned of fire at the earliest opportunity, and that the main escape route, usually the single staircase enclosure, is protected from the ingress of fire and smoke.

To ensure that tenants are given sufficient warning of a fire occurring, HMO’s of three stories or greater are required to have installed and properly maintained:-

Audible fire detection (AFD) installed to the common parts (those areas of the house shared by all tenants) and those rooms which are immediately adjacent to the common parts. This will include the installation of mains operated and constantly monitored smoke or heat detectors, break glass callout points, and sounders of sufficient audibility so as to be heard throughout the premises.

To ensure that the tenants can safely exit the house in the event of fire the escape route must be protected. HMO’s are required to have :-

  • Fire doors capable of resisting fire for a minimum period of 30 minutes (FD30s) fitted to all flat entrance, living room and kitchen door openings. Fire doors capable of resisting fire for a minimum period of 20 minutes (FD20) fitted to all bedroom doors. Bathrooms are not required to have fire resisting doors.
  • Emergency lighting which must operate in the event of mains power failure and provide sufficient luminance for tenants to see there way out.
  • The structure separating the flats from the escape route, and in between flats, must be fire resisting to a standard of no less than 30 minutes. Undamaged traditional half brick walls with plaster to each side will usually offer the required protection, but partitions and floors/ceilings must be checked to ensure construction meets with approved standards for fire resistance (30 minutes).
  • Escape routes must be kept clear of any obstructions i.e. bicycles kept in hallways, unwanted furniture refuse bags etc.

Management Regulations

Management Regulations automatically apply to ALL HMO’s although they differ slightly for houses with shared facilities and houses converted into self contained flats.

The Regulations specify the standards of management that are required with regard to the level of maintenance, risk reduction and general up-keep of the property.

Tenants must also comply with the Regulations.

Because of the great variance between individual HMO’s, the above requirements are guidance only.

Officers will be pleased to advise on the requirements for individual properties