Houses in multiple occupation

Page last updated at 04 January 2017 at 15:57

What is a 'House in Multiple Occupation'?

It is important that tenants and landlords know what a 'HMO' is, because a higher standard under the Housing Act 2004 apply to them. Why? Because serious accidents are far more likely to happen in a HMO than a self contained house.

The Definition

A House in Multiple Occupation is in general any property, house or flat, where there are 2 or more separate households sharing one or more basic amenity (such as toilet, bathroom, kitchen etc.) and where there is rent or some other form of payment made by at least one person.

If you are a landlord or private tenant and you are unsure whether the property you let or rent is an HMO and would like further information please contact our Private Sector Housing team on 023 8068 8329.

Key issues for landlordsHouse Health Image M

HMOs provide a much needed source of housing, but we often encounter many hazards such as:

  • overcrowding
  • poor or inadequate kitchen facilities 
  • poor or inadequate bathrooms
  • no or inadequate fire detection
  • inadequate fire separation
  • blocked or unsafe escape routes 

....and many other areas of disrepair. Landlords need to be aware that their responsibilities and the 29 hazard types under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) are the same as for other rented properties but that as HMO their property must meet a higher standard in some areas, such as fire detection. Part of this higher standard is through greater management and the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupancy (England) Regulations 2006 state the regulations that apply to most HMOs.

In the worst cases the Council can 'close' a HMO but we always endeavour to work with landlords to sort out any problems rather than see people lose their homes. Download our HMO Information Pack for further information and guidance to assist landlords to design, improve and better manage HMOs to a satisfactory standard.


Fire SafetyFlames Picture M

As well as the Housing Act 2004 governing the the standards and requirements that must be met by HMOs, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 also applies in respect to all communal areas. Due to this commonality and overlap in legislation and enforcement powers Eastleigh Borough Council work extremely closely with our colleagues in Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service .

Whilst it would always be good practice and strongly recommended for other rented properties, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order a landlord of a HMO must have a fire risk assessment for their property. For more information and guidance on how to carry out a fire risk assessment visit Hampshire Fire & Rescue - Business Fire Safety.

Both Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service and Eastleigh Borough Council work together using the national guidance document from Lacors as the minimum standard that will be accepted.

Download the Lacors: Housing - Fire Safety document to find out how it applies to your HMO.



In some cases HMOs may need to be licenced depending on their size. To find out more information and if your property needs to be licensed visit our licensing webpage.

Planning permission may also be required for a property to be used as an HMO and owners should check with Development Control who can be contacted at or on 023 8068 8000.