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A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one household, but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen, it is sometimes called house sharing.
If you want to rent out your property as an HMO in England or Wales, you must contact your local Council to check to see if you require a licence to achieve this.
You must have a licence if you are renting out a large HMO in England or Wales. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:
It is rented to five or more people who form more than one household
Some, or all, of the tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
At least one tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)
Even if the property is smaller and rented to fewer people, you may still need a licence depending on the area (check with your Local Council)
A licence is valid for 5 years
You must review your licence before it runs out
You need a separate licence for each HMO that you own
You must make sure:
The house is suitable for the number of occupants (this depends on its size and the facilities)
The manager of the house, you or an agent is considered to be “fit and property” for example they have no criminal record, or breach of landlord laws or code of practice.
You must also
Send the council an up dated gas safety certificate every year
Install and maintain smoke alarms
Provide safety certificates for all appliances when requested
The Council may add other conditions to your licence, for example improving the standard of your facilities, they will advise you when you apply.
If you disagree with any of the conditions the Council sets, you can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.
You should apply for the licence yourself, but you can use a managing agent to do this for you.
Check if your home is overcrowded by law
Find out if your home is illegally overcrowded, also known as statutory overcrowding.
- Room standard
The room standard looks at the number and sex of people who have to sleep in the same room.
Any room you can sleep in counts, not just bedrooms. Living room, dining rooms and studies count as rooms you can sleep in.
Your home is overcrowded by law if:
2 people of a different sex have to sleep in the same room
they are aged 10 or over
The rule doesn’t apply to couples who share a room. Children under 10 aren’t counted.
A couple with two boys and a girl all aged under 10 living in a one-bedroom flat with a living room would not count as overcrowded under the room standard.
- Space standard
This method is called the space standard. There are two ways to work out if a home is overcrowded under the law using this method.
First count the number of people:
anyone aged 10 or over counts as 1 person
children aged 1 to 9 count as 0.5
children under 1 year old don’t count
Next, count the number of rooms or measure the floor space of each room.
Don’t count any room that is:
under 50 square feet or 4.6 square metres
not a bedroom or living room
Check the tables below to see if your home counts as overcrowded under the law under the space standard.
If you get different results from each table, use the lowest figure of maximum number of people allowed.
Number of rooms
|Number of rooms||Maximum number of people allowed|
Floor space of each room
|Room’s floor space in square feet||Room’s floor space in square metres||Maximum number of people allowed|
|50 – 69||4.6 – 6.4||0.5|
|70 – 89||6.5 – 8.3||1|
|90 – 109||8.4 – 10.1||1.5|
Minimum bedroom sizes for Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)
Some houses in multiple occupation (HMO) must be licensed by the council.
If your landlord applied for a HMO licence on or after 1 October 2018 or has renewed it since, bedroom sizes must be at least:
6.51 square metres for an adult
10.22 square metres for two adults
4.64 square metres for a child under 10 years old
Some councils may set higher standards for bedroom sizes.
If a room is used as bedroom and doesn’t meet the size requirement, the council may allow your landlord up to 18 months to make the room larger or move you to a different bedroom.
The council can prosecute or fine your landlord if a bedroom is smaller than standards allow.
If your home is overcrowded
If your home is overcrowded according to either the room standard or space standard, you could:
- count as homeless by law
- have additional priority if you apply for council housing
Find out what your options are if your home is overcrowded.