About houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
What is a ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO)?
The definition of an HMO is given in the Housing Act 2004.
Premises classed as HMOs are:
- a house or a self contained flat in which three or more people forming two or more households share some basic facilities, such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet
- a building which comprises one or more units of non-self contained accommodation in which three or more people forming two or more households share some basic amenities, such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet
- a converted building which comprises one or more units of accommodation that which are not self-contained flats and which is occupied by three or more people forming two or more households (even if it also contains self contained flats as well).
- Buildings that comprise self-contained flats which do not meet certain criteria about their construction based on the 1991 Building Regulations standard (known as Section 257 HMOs), where less than two thirds of flats are owner occupied.
A household is generally taken to mean a single person, cohabiting partners or people living together who are members of the same family. There are circumstances where people will be regarded as a single family where they are not related, for example where accommodation is provided for a carer, au pair, nanny etc. Two unrelated persons sharing a flat or house would not constitute an HMO.
To be classed as an HMO the property must be used as the tenants only or main residence. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as being their only or main residence, as would properties used as domestic refuges and hostels.
The Council operates a Mandatory HMO licensing scheme. Most* landlords of HMOs that have five or more occupiers forming two or more households require a licence. This previously only applied to properties with three or more stories (including habitable basements and attics) but from 1 October 2018 HMOs with five or more occupiers forming two or more households regardless of the number of storeys became subject to HMO licensing. This means that:
- HMOs with five or more occupiers forming two or more households
- flats within a converted building, where the flat itself is an HMO with five or more occupiers forming two or more households, and
- flats within purpose built blocks with either one or two flats, where the flat is an HMO with five or more occupiers forming two or more households, will require an HMO licence.
If you own or manage a licensable HMO and have not applied for a licence you must do so immediately. Failure to licence an HMO is a criminal offence which could lead to an unlimited fine or a financial penalty of up to £30,000. You could also be subject to a Rent Repayment Order for the period that the property was unlicensed.
Derby City Council does not currently operate any Additional HMO Licensing or Selective Licensing schemes.
*There are some exemptions from licensing. For example, properties managed by local authorities and Registered Housing Providers, such as Housing Associations, do not require a licence.
You can apply online to licence a house in multiple occupation.
An HMO licence will generally run for 5 years but we may issue a licence for a shorter period in some circumstances. For example:
- if we have concerns over the management arrangements
- if there has been the need for previous intervention by the Council
- if there has been a history of non-compliance or
- if planning permission is needed for the building but has not been obtained, a shorter licence period can be issued.
You must also apply to renew your licence before the current one expires.
In more serious cases or where we consider the applicant is not a 'fit and proper person' to hold a licence we may refuse to grant one. We will normally only refuse to grant a licence if we think there are serious difficulties about the HMO, its management, the fitness of the applicant to be involved in its management or if the applicant is subject to a Banning Order. In such cases alternative licensing and management arrangements will need to be put in place. If arrangements for the satisfactory management of an HMO cannot be put in place and there is no prospect of the HMO being licensed within a reasonable time the Council may make an Interim Management Order which allows us to step in and manage the property. The order can last for up to a year until suitable permanent arrangements can be put in place. If the order expires and the issue has not been resolved we can then make a Final Management Order which can last for up to five years, and can be renewed.
Applications for licenses and renewals must be accompanied by the correct fee.
Due to a recent legal decision the fee must now be paid in two parts - the first part is payable with the application and second part is payable within 21 days from when you receive your draft licence. If the second part of the fee is not paid we cannot issue the full licence.
We aim to consider all valid applications for an HMO licence within 90 days. A valid application must include all the information and certificates requested and the correct fee. Incomplete applications and those not accompanied by the correct fee will not be accepted. If we are unable to consider the application within 90 days we will inform you of the reasons why and state what the extended time period will be.
Once a valid application or renewal is received and we are able to consider the application, we will usually arrange an inspection of the property and then prepare a draft licence and a 'Proposal Notice'. There is a 21 day consultation period and if you disagree with any conditions on the draft licence you can make representation against the conditions to us. If this happens we may amend the licence as requested or reject the representation.
The actual licence and a 'Decision Notice' is then issued. There is a further right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against any conditions put on the licence. This must be done within 28 days of us issuing of the Decision Notice and licence. The licence comes into force after this time period if there is no appeal.
For further information in connection with licensing:
From 1 October 2018 the following measures regarding minimum sizes for rooms used as sleeping accommodation will be included as mandatory licensing conditions:
- the floor area for any room used as sleeping accommodation by a single person aged under 10 years is not to be less than 4.64m2
- the floor area for any room used as sleeping accommodation by a single person aged over 10 years is not to be less than 6.51m2
- the floor area for any room used as sleeping accommodation by two people aged over 10 years is not to be less than 10.22m2
Communal space in other parts of the HMO cannot be used to compensate for rooms smaller than the prescribed minimum. These mandatory room size conditions are the statutory minimum below which rooms cannot be used as sleeping accommodation and are not intended to be the optimal room size.
Please note that Local Housing Authorities have discretion to set their own higher standards. Derby City Council has formally adopted its own bedroom size requirements and from 25 August 2021 any new HMO developments will need to comply with these standards.
For our space standards please refer to our download Amenity Guide for HMOs.
The new licence conditions also require landlords and agents to have appropriate arrangements in place for the storage and disposal of household waste.
If you would like to know more about how we administer HMO licensing within the city, please email the Housing Standards team or telephone 01332 640764.
The Housing Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) other than Section 257 HMOs as these have their own, broadly similar, management regulations.
These regulations place a number of duties upon the manager of an HMO. Both landlords and managing agents should make sure they comply with these regulations at all times.
Failing to comply with the HMO management regulations may result in prosecution and an unlimited fine or a civil penalty of up to £30,000.
If you need more information about the management regulations please email the Housing Standards Team or phone 01332 640764.
One of the most important hazards to be assessed in a bedsit type HMO is fire, as the risks are several times higher than in an ordinary family home. When enforcing fire safety standards in dwellings, the Housing Standards Team refer to the .
Advice for tenants about fire safety can be found in the Fire safety in shared or rented accommodation.
Advise for landlords about fire safety can be found in the LACoRS fire safety guide which outlines best practice for residential property.
If you have any more questions about fire safety in HMOs please email the Housing Standards Team or phone 01332 640764.
Smaller shared houses will usually be assessed as one unit but in bigger HMOs an HHSRS assessment will be carried out for each unit within the HMO. The common parts of an HMO such as the hall, staircases, landings and any shared rooms will be regarded as part of the living unit for the purposes of the assessment.
For our space guidelines please refer to our Amenity Guide for HMOs.
Local Authorities must maintain a register of all HMO licences, any Temporary Exemption Notices that are in force and any interim or final Management Orders made in respect of HMOs in their area.
You can view our download Register of HMO licences.
This is a compact version of the public register, specifically for the internet and it does not contain landlords' details.
Please note that if requested to do so the Council must supply a copy of the public register or an extract from it. However, everyone has rights with regard to the way in which the data on the register is handled and details cannot be used for marketing purposes or without the consent of the individuals listed on it. If you wish to view the full register at the Council House you must book an appointment. Alternatively, we can supply a copy of the full register electronically but there is a charge of £50 for this service. Telephone 01332 640764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to do this.
If you require further information on the public register or on other aspects of HMO licensing please contact the Housing Standards team on 01332 640764 or email email@example.com.