Certain types of rented properties are called Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). As a private tenant it is important to know whether your property is a HMO, because as a tenant of a HMO you have certain additional rights and responsibilities.
What is a HMO?
Under the Housing Act 2004 a HMO is:
- an entire house or flat occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet
- a house that has been converted into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and occupied by three or more tenants, forming two or more households and sharing a kitchen, bathroom or toilet
- a converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self-contained and which is occupied by three or more tenants occupying two or more households
- a building converted entirely into self-contained flats where less than two thirds are in owner occupation and where the conversion did not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations
What does a ‘household’ mean in terms of HMOs?
A ‘household’ could be a single person, or members of the same family living together. Members of the same family includes people who are married or living together as married (including those in a same-sex relationship) as well as close relatives and foster children living with foster parents.
There are rules that apply to HMOs, designed to make sure that the properties are safe and are well managed.
Most HMOs need to be licensed with us (as the local housing authority) and the landlord, or manager, of the property is responsible for applying for the licence.
When a HMO is licensed with us we can make sure that the property is suitable for the number of occupants and that the management arrangements are acceptable.
A HMO must be managed properly – failure of the manager or landlord to do so can be a criminal offence. If needed we can take over the management of a HMO to protect occupants (and those of neighbouring properties) from serious harm, where this is an appropriate last resort.
Poor management of a HMO
You can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (or by calling 01978 292040 if the situation is urgent) if you think that your private landlord is failing to manage your home properly. We will investigate your concerns and may take action against the manager if appropriate.
Anti-social behaviour in HMOs
If we (the local authority) receive a complaint about anti-social behaviour from a HMO then we will tackle this through the landlord and management of the property. A person in charge of a HMO has a duty to properly manage it and this includes managing the behaviour of the tenants.
Where the person committing anti-social behaviour is a tenant of a private landlord, or lives with or visits a tenant of a private landlord then, where possible, the private landlord or the letting agent should be contacted, with details of the problems you are experiencing.
Private landlords have the power of the tenancy agreement to tackle anti-social behaviour in their properties.
Responsible landlords do not want to house anti-social tenants as they are also likely to cause other problems (such as damage to the property, difficulties with paying rent, and possibly threatening or abusive behaviour towards the landlord). Private landlords have the power to evict, if all other approaches don’t stop the problem.
We encourage private landlords to work closely with us and the police to help solve problems (working with other agencies can help to be used that would not be available for a landlord to use themselves).
HMO tenant rights and responsibilities
- You can make a claim for rent repayments if your landlord is convicted of failing to licence the HMO.
- Your landlord will not be able to evict you using a 'section 21 notice' if you occupy an unlicensed HMO under an assured shorthold tenancy - this means that you cannot be evicted without 'grounds’, such as non-payment of rent
- You must reasonably allow the management to carry out their duties - deliberately obstructing them from doing so can be an offence
A HMO is no longer unlicensed once an application for licensing or temporary exemption from licensing is made.
Obstruction includes any action that does not allow the manager to carry out duties, as set out in their management responsibilities. Managers are expected to report tenants to us in such circumstances.
Check the licence conditions and management regulations that landlords of HMOs have to follow on our HMO licensing and management page.