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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:

This includes properties which are:

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.

Landlord responsibilities

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.

Management regulations

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:

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.

Tenants also have responsibilities under the regulations, which allow managers to fulfil their legal obligations. Tenants should:

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.

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.

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:

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.

Related documents

Size Name
[211kb] Does my property need a HMO licence HMO licence guidance
[697kb] Private Sector Housing Policy Framework 2015 Private Sector Housing Policy Framework 2015
[1Mb] 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.