Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
Landlords who rent their property to a group of unrelated tenants often face a range of complex legal responsibilities.
What is a HMO?
The information below is a guide to the key points.
A privately rented property will be a HMO if:
- it is occupied by three or more unrelated tenants forming two or more households and it is their main and only place of residence; and
- the people living there share basic amenities - for example, a kitchen and/or bathroom
This includes properties which are:
- a house split into separate bedsits;
- a shared house or flat, where the sharers are not members of the same family regardless of the tenancy agreement;
- a hostel;
- shared accommodation for students;
- the building was converted into self-contained flats and does not meet the 1991 Building Regulations;
- the landlord lives at the property and rents out rooms.
Note that a 'household' can be a single person or certain members of the same family who live together. The Private Sector Housing team can provide guidance on what constitutes a family. For further information, see Housing Act 2004, S258 in Useful links
If you are unsure whether your property is a HMO, you can check with the Private Sector Housing team - see Contact us.
- Landlords of HMOs need to be aware of the Regulations governing the management of HMOs.
- They should also have an understanding of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) which the council uses to assess rented properties, the requirement for licensing and the councils powers in relation to all types of HMO. See Related articles.
- Guidance is also available for the minimum requirements for space and amenities in HMOs - see Useful links.
The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions)(England) Regulations 2007 apply to all HMOs whether or not they require a licence and impose a number of duties on the manager of the property including:
- providing information to the occupiers: to include name, address and telephone number of the manager to each household AND clearly display this information in the property.
- undertaking safety measures: ensuring proper fire safety measures are in place, fire safety equipment is properly maintained and escape routes are kept free from obstructions. Keep a record of maintenance works and fire alarm system tests.
- supply and maintain gas and electricity: all fixed electric installations must be inspected and tested by a qualified engineer at least once every 5 years and a results certificate obtained. Annual gas safety checks must be carried out annually by a qualified gas engineer. Keep a record of maintenance works and inspections of gas and electric appliances and installations.
- maintain water supply and drainage: including protecting pipes from frost damage and preventing contamination of water supply.
- maintain common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances: all must be kept clean, safe, in good decorative repair and working order and free from obstruction. Particular attention should be given to handrails, banisters, stair coverings, light fittings, windows and other means of ventilation. This also includes gardens, yards, outbuildings, boundary walls/fences and gates. Adequate cooking and washing facilities must be provided.
- maintain living accommodation: internal structure of each room to be kept in good repair. Each room and all supplied furniture should be in a clean condition at the beginning of the tenants' occupation.
- provide waste disposal facilities: provide sufficient suitable waste bins having regard for the Councils collection service - see Related articles.
The Regulations require that specified standards of management are achieved and maintained. If a manager fails to meet these standards, the Council may prosecute immediately, with an unlimited fine for each breach of the Regulations.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
Under the Housing Act 2004 councils assess risks in HMOs using HHSRS. This assesses 29 potential risk and classes them as either Category 1 (serious) or Category 2 (less serious). For more information, see Related articles.
Tenants also have responsibilities under the regulations, which allow managers to fulfil their legal obligations. Tenants should:
- allow access to the manager at reasonable times and provide necessary information to carry out their management duties;
- comply with the manager's arrangements for means of escape from fire and storage and disposal of refuse;
- keep the accommodation in an acceptable manner and take reasonable care not to damage the property;
- behave in a reasonable and social manner so as not to damage the property and cause a nuisance to other tenants or inconvenience the manager's duties.
For further information you can contact the Private Sector Housing team. The full Management of HMO Regulations (England) 2006 can be viewed online - see Useful links.
Licensing of HMOs
At present there are three types of licensing schemes: mandatory, selective and additional. Boston Borough Council does not operate any selective or additional licensing schemes at the present time but properties which meet the following criteria require a mandatory licence:
- three or more storeys; and
- occupied by five or more unrelated persons forming two or more households; and it is their main and only place of residence; and
- the people living there share basic amenities - for example, a kitchen and/or bathroom.
An HMO licence runs for a maximum of five years. The property must be inspected by the Council using HHSRS before granting a licence.
A guide to assist landlords to check if their property needs an HMO licence is available to download - see Related documents below.
Failure to apply for a HMO licence on a property which requires licensing could result in an unlimited fine.
For full details on licensing of HMOs in Boston, see Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
The Department of Communities and Local Government are currently consulting (November 2015) on extending mandatory licensing in the private rented sector. Changes could be introduced in 2016 - more details will be provided on this website when they become available. Landlords, letting agents and related professionals can register for the Lincolnshire Landlords Electronic newsletter to keep up to date with changes in the sector - see Related articles for more details.
|[211kb]||Does my property need a HMO licence||HMO licence guidance|
|[699kb]||Private Sector Housing Policy Framework 2015||Private Sector Housing Policy Framework 2015|
|[1006kb]||Delegation of Decisions - Authorisations for Private Sector Housing||Delegation of decisions|
The documents in this section are in Adobe Acrobat format (pdf). You will need Acrobat Reader to view these files which can be downloaded from the Adobe website free of charge.