A Handy Guide to the New Rules on Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO)

From the first of October, changes have come into force on how HMOs are regulated, including the definition of houses of multiple occupancy.

Now, an HMO is defined as any property which is occupied by 5 or more people which form 2 or more households. There is no reference made to the number of storeys in the building in question, as was previously the case.

If you’re wondering what constitutes a household, here’s the definition from Section 258 of The Housing Act 2004 where a household is a family being made up of either a couple (whether married or not and also including same-sex couples) or people who are related to each other. Relatives are parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, half-relatives and step-children.

Here are some more points that you as an HMO landlord will need to be aware of:

  • If you already have an HMO licence under the previous definition, it will still be valid until the expiration date (this is usually 5 years from the date of issue).
  • If you have an HMO which under the old definition did not require licensing, but now does under the new system, you will need to apply to the local council for a new one. There is a “grace period” allowing you to get your licence but timescales will vary from local authority to local authority.
  • Note this important exception – properties located in a purpose-built block of flats which comprises of 3 or more units.
  • The new rules also implement minimum sleeping room sizes which is for a person over 10 years of age 6.51 square metres and a room for 2 persons over the age of 10 years needs to be 10.22 square metres. For a room sleeping a child under 10 years old, the minimum size is 4.64 square metres. These are minimum sizes rather than a statement of what is the optimum value. The likely possibility is that local authorities will inspect HMOs to check compliance in this area.
  • In terms of waste disposal, part of the licence requirements are that the HMO complies fully with the local authority waste policy for storing and disposing of household waste.

So there you have it – a guide to what’s changed in the HMO legislation and the actions that you may need to take as a result.


Nick Fox started his property investment career 10 years ago and his portfolio has grown to one of the largest in the UK. Nick now mainly focusses on HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and works to help others achieve property success too. Visit here to find out how he can help you.

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