The legal definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a house that’s occupied by 3 or more persons forming more than 1 household.

Typical examples of HMOs

  • houses that have been converted into bedsits
  • shared houses or bed and breakfast accommodation, where there is some sharing of facilities 
  • buildings converted into self-contained flats, without the necessary council approvals

It does not include are properties that have been built purposely for use as flats or maisonettes and which have the necessary building legislation approval.

The risks

It has long been known that living in a HMO presents the occupant with a higher risk to his or her health and safety. Research has shown that the risk of death or serious injury to a person living in a HMO is six times more likely than to a person living in a singly occupied house.

This means that if you live in a house which has been converted into flats or bedsits, you are six times more likely to die from fire than in ordinary houses.

Because of the risks, councils are required to seek out HMOs in their borough and assess each one. We need to see if it meets the standards required, whether it’s fit to live in and how safe it is, with particular emphasis on fire safety.

Apply for a licence

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