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What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

A House in Multiple Occupation, referred to as an HMO, is defined under sections 254 and 257 of the Housing Act 2004. A HMO can be a building or part of a building if it is:

  • occupied by persons who form more than one household and where those persons share (or lack) one or more basic amenity, such as a toilet, bathroom and cooking facilities
  • a converted building containing one or more units of accommodation that do not consist entirely of self-contained flats. (There is no requirement that the occupiers share facilities).
  • a converted building consisting entirely of self-contained flats, where the building work undertaken in connection with the conversion did not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies.

To be classified as an HMO, the property must be occupied by more than one household:

  • as their only or main residence
  • as a refuge
  • by students during term time
  • for another purpose that is described in regulations


  • occupation as living accommodation must be the only use of the accommodation
  • rents are payable or other considerations are provided.

Under the Housing Act 2004, a household comprises:

  • a single person
  • co-habiting couples (whether or not of the opposite sex)
  • a family (including foster children and children being cared for) and current domestic employees.