What is a house in multiple occupation?

A property which has three or more unrelated people living there, and those people share basic amenities such as a bathroom or a kitchen.

Does A House In Multiple Occupation Have To Be Licensed By The Council?

A landlord must get a licence if the HMO

Is at least three storeys high


Has 5 or more unrelated people who live in it


Has 2 or more separate households living there.

In addition, some councils require other HMOs to be licensed, eg in an area with a high student population there may have a selective licensing scheme. If in doubt check with your local authority as to whether your property should be licensed.

If a licence is needed then it usually lasts for 5 years but can be shorter. At the end of the licence, the Council will need to check

  • Whether the property meets the acceptable standard
  • Does the landlord remain a fit and proper person to hold a licence

What Additional Requirements Are There Of An HMO Landlord?

They MUST:-

Ensure that proper fire safety measures are in place, including working smoke alarms


Electrics are checked regularly and not less than every five years


The property is not overcrowded


There are sufficient cooking and bathroom facilities for the occupants.


The communal areas are clean and in good repair


There are sufficient rubbish bags/ bins for waste.

Houses In Multiple Occupation (HMO) - The Terminology

The landlord also has his usual obligations such as:

To undertake an annual gas safety check


To repair those items which he or she is obligated to do by law, such as , structure and exterior of the house, water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, basins, sinks, baths and toilets fixed heaters and water heaters.

What Are The Penalties For Not Having An HMO Licence?

You can be fined and ordered to pay up to 12 months rent to the tenant or housing benefit to the council

If your tenant has an assured short hold tenancy, you will not be able to use a s21 notice, and the no fault ground for possession.


Remember in Wales even if you have a HMO licence, you will still be required to register as a landlord with Rent Smart Wales.  You will need two licenses in this case.