Houses of Multiple Occupancy

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and Licensing of Private Rented Properties (England)

Fraser Bond offers expert guidance and advice relating to the management of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and the licensing of HMOs and other private rented properties in England.

Detailed guidance on the licensing and management of HMOs and other private rented properties is available on the website.


Some HMOs require a licence, other HMOs do not require a license but landlords and/or managing agents must comply with HMO regulations.

In simple terms, a house or flat is a HMO if it is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households and the tenants share some or all of the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.

A landlord of such a property must comply with the Management Regulations relating to HMOs. These are discussed at section 8 below.

Licensing of large HMOs

New regulations brought in on October 2018 (affecting England only) amended the definition of mandatory licensing. In England, a large HMO is a property occupied by 5 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share some or all of the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities. (The requirement that the property have three or more storeys no longer applies after 1 October 2018.)

A landlord of a large HMO must obtain a licence from the local housing authority to operate the HMO. More information about licensing can be found at or on the relevant local authority website.

If a landlord has an agent, the agent will also need to be named on the licence and it is an offence if they are not.

Selective licensing of private rented properties

Local housing authorities also have the power to designate the whole or part of their district as subject to selective licensing of all private rented properties (other than HMOs for which a licensing system already exists). This is separate from the HMO licensing regime. Selective licensing may be introduced to address problems caused by low housing demand and/or significant anti-social behaviour.

Landlords should check with the local housing authority whether their private rented property is affected by selective licensing.

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