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Home > Housing > Advice for private landlords and tenants > Houses in multiple occupation

Houses in multiple occupation

A house in multiple occupations (HMO) is:

  • A house or flat which is occupied by three or more persons, who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities
  • A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is occupied by three or more persons, who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities
  • A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not totally self-contained (i.e. the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities) and which is occupied by three or more persons who form two or more households
  • A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats, if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and less than two-thirds of the flats are occupied.

We work hard to identify HMOs to ensure they meet standards in fire safety and amenities and are adequately managed.

HMOs will have a much higher risk of fire than other properties. In determining whether any improvements are required, we will have regard to the LACoRS Fire Safety Guidance

This guide has been adopted by the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and all councils within Suffolk. 


Owners of houses in multiple occupation

The Housing Act 2004 introduced new regulations placing a duty on managers to properly manage the property and maintain the property and services. The regulations can be viewed via Legislation.gov.uk


Licensing

Larger Houses in Multiple Occupation may require licensing by the Council.

This applies to any Houses in Multiple Occupation of three or more storeys that is occupied by five or more people, in two or more households.

Landlords who operate such properties without a licence are liable to a fine of up to £20,000. We also have the power to claim back any housing benefit paid during the time the property is unlicensed. Tenants may also apply for their rent to be repaid to them.

Criteria for licensing

The House in Multiple Occupation (or any part of it) comprises three storeys or more;

  • It is occupied by five or more persons (regardless of age); and
  • It is occupied by persons living in two or more households.

Storey includes:

  • Any basement used, constructed, converted or adapted wholly or partly for living accommodation, being used as an integral part of the House in Multiple Occupation or as the principal entry point from the street.
  • Any attic used, constructed, converted or adapted wholly or partly for living accommodation or being used as an integral part of the House in Multiple Occupation.
  • Any business premises above or below the living accommodation.
  • Any mezzanine floor used wholly or partly for living accommodation or being used as an integral part of the House in Multiple Occupation.
  • Any other storey used wholly or partly for living accommodation or being used as an integral part of the House in Multiple Occupation.

Interpretations:
'Living accommodation' includes habitable rooms such as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.
'Integral part of the House in Multiple Occupation's includes all facilities provided for use by the occupants.


Applying for a licence

Applications must be made to Private Sector Housing. Please contact us for details. 

A fee may be charged.

If your application fails you may appeal to a residential property tribunal. Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Inspection

We will inspect Houses in Multiple Occupation on an annual basis.