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Houses in multiple occupation

A number of privately rented homes within the county borough are Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

What are HMOs?

Under the changes in the Housing Act 2004, if you let or occupy a property which is one of the following types it is a House in Multiple Occupation:

  • An entire house or flat which is let to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
  • A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to 3 or more tenants 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 wholly self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more tenants 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 more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.

In order to be an HMO the property must be used as the tenants' only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges.

These homes have to comply with the same general standards of safety for occupation as do all properties, however certain additional requirements are necessary for these properties.

Our private sector housing team periodically inspect all known HMOs within the county borough and have a duty to ensure that all aspects of the accommodation is safe, protected from fire and suitable for occupation.

If you are the landlord or tenant of a HMO and need advice in relation to your property, contact private sector housing.

HMO licences

Certain HMOs are required to be licensed by the council, however very few actually exist within the county borough. Licensing is restricted to HMOs that are 3 or more storeys in height and house 5 or more tenants, made up from 2 or more families. To appy for a licence visit the HMO licence webpage.

HMO public register

The Housing Act 2004 requires every local authority to maintain a public register of premises licensed as a HMO.

HMO Public Register (PDF)

Fire safety

Fire safety regulation has recently changed and now requires owners of certain types of businesses to ensure their premises are free from the risks of fire. The new regulations include the common areas of maisonettes, flats and Houses if multiple occupation.

Housing fire safety – reference guide (PDF 59kb)

Housing fire safety – full guide (PDF 1.6mb)

A series of guides have been produced to help landlords through the requirements and to ensure their residents and property are protected.

HMO management

If you are managing an HMO you should be aware of your legal responsibilities and what you need to do to look after your property and your tenants.

In Wales there are two sets of Management Regulations and you need to comply with these in addition to any licensing requirements which may or may not apply to your HMO.

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (Wales) Regulations 2007 apply to 'Section 257' HMOs: buildings which have been converted into self-contained flats, but which do not meet the requirements of the 1991 Building Regulations and where less than two-thirds of the flats are owner occupied.

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006 apply to other HMOs (e.g. shared houses and bed-sits or a property that has some self-contained flats as well as shared accommodation).

Both sets of regulations contain the same type of requirements:

  • giving information to occupiers,
  • keeping the accommodation safe, clean and in good repair
  • making sure that fire safety measures and precautions are maintained
  • maintaining safe water, drainage, gas and electricity supplies
  • taking care of common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances and
  • providing facilities for waste disposal.

Occupiers also have responsibilities under the Regulations to allow the manager reasonable access to the property; not to prevent the manager carrying out their legal duties; to provide relevant information when requested by the manager and to store and dispose of waste properly as directed by the manager.

You can also download copies of the Regulations at www.legislation.gov.uk/.

Contact us