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Live in landlords and HMOs


What is an HMO?

The term House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) refers to a property rented out by at least three people who aren’t related, but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.

When does a property become an HMO?  

It's a common misconception that the HMO regulations only apply to flatshares where the landlord doesn’t live in the property – it's perfectly possible to have an HMO as a live in landlord too.

You’re allowed to have two ‘non family’ members before your property is classified as an HMO, but when you get to three non-family, paying lodgers, it’ll change. It doesn't matter if the lodgers are related to each other or not – the rule is around forming two or more separate households.

Download our full HMO guide

HMO Licences

If you’re renting out a property to five or more people, with shared toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities, this is a large HMO and will require an HMO licence. There used to be an exception based on the number of storeys in the property but this was scrapped in 2018.

There are also some instances in which smaller HMOs require a licence, for example if a local authority requires all HMOs to be licensed in specific areas. Contact your council to see what their approach is in your local area.

An HMO licence is valid for five years – after this point you must renew it. You should also have a separate license for every HMO you run – renting out an unlicensed HMO puts you at risk of an unlimited fine.

Download our full HMO guide


Historically, HMOs are at a greater risk from fires, so it’s important all HMO landlords put in appropriate fire safety systems and regularly maintain fire alarms. You should send a gas certificate to the council every year and provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested.

For more information on HMOs read our HMO Guide for landlords.