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House in multiple occupation (HMO)

House in multiple occupation (HMO)

If a property is let to several tenants that are not members of the same family, it may be a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ (HMO).

In most cases an HMO is:

  • a house or a 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 bedsits or other 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 building which comprises one or more flats that which are not entirely self-contained and which is occupied by three or more people forming two or more households
  • 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.

The definition of a House in Multiple Occupation is given in the Housing Act 2004.

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 people 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.

Which properties require an HMO licence?

We operate a mandatory HMO licensing scheme. From 1 October 2018, the legislation regarding the mandatory licensing of HMOs has changed.

This means that any HMO that is occupied by five or more people that form two or more separate households, and who share basic amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet, now require a licence.*

Importantly, premises that have kitchen and/or bathroom amenities that are not within a flat or bedsit, could require an HMO licence. An example of this would be where a tenant has to exit their letting to use a kitchen or bathroom that is for their exclusive use. This means that the following types of HMO now require a licence:

  • 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.

Applying for an HMO licence

If you own or manage an HMO that meets the new criteria for mandatory licensing you must apply for a licence now; if you don't you will be committing an offence.  

If you own or manage an HMO which fell under the previous requirements for HMO licensing and you do not currently hold a licence you are already committing an offence and you must apply immediately.

Failing to licence a property is a criminal offence which, on conviction, may lead to an unlimited fine or a civil penalty of up to £30,000. You could also be subject to a Banning Order or a Rent Repayment Order for the period that the property was unlicensed.

*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.

Renewing an HMO licence

Applications to renew an existing HMO licence should be submitted two months before the existing licence expires. We need to know about any changes that may have happened. You will need to provide updated information about your status as a ‘fit and proper’ person to act as the licence holder.

Incomplete applications and applications not accompanied by the correct fee will not be accepted. 

Once a valid application is received, we will:

  • arrange an inspection of the property
  • prepare a draft licence and a 'Proposal Notice'. There is a 14 day consultation period and if you disagree with any conditions on the draft licence you can make representation against the condition(s). If this happens we may amend the licence as requested or reject the representation.this will require a further consulation period of at least 7 days after the date of service of the revised notice.
  • issue the actual licence and a 'Decision Notice'. There is a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against conditions on the licence. The appeal must be made within 28 days of the issuing of the Decision Notice.

An HMO licence will generally run for 5 years but we may issue a licence for a shorter period where there are any concerns over the management arrangements or where there have been avoidable delays in making an effective licence application

Licence fee

  • new applications - £400
  • renewals - £300

Please note these fees are currently under review.

Minimum room sizes in licensable HMOs

From 1 October 2018 the following measures regarding minimum sizes for rooms used as sleeping accommodation are 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. Chesterfield Borough Council will continue to have discretion to set their own higher standards.  

Amenities and space standards In HMOs

We require that all HMOs have adequate levels of amenities and space. The property must have rooms of sufficient size and have enough kitchen facilities, bathrooms and toilets for the number of people living there.

Our amenities and space guidance is in the process of being updated.

Smaller shared houses (ie those properties where the whole property has been rented out by an identifiable group of sharers such as students, work colleagues or friends as joint tenants) will usually be assessed as one unit but in bigger HMOs a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (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.

Storage and disposal of waste

The new licence conditions will also require landlords and agents to have appropriate arrangements in place for the storage and disposal of household waste. 

Regulations that cover the management of HMOs

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply to all 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.

Fire safety

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 private sector housing team refer to the LACORS Fire Safety Guidance.

If you are a tenant you can find fire safety advice here.

LACORS Fire Safety Guidance 2008 (pdf 1.54 MB)

Public register

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.

A reduced version of the public register is available below; if you require a complete version of the public register please contact the private sector housing team. 

HMO Licence Public Register (pdf 43 KB)

How to apply

You can apply for a licence online via

Alternatively you can download a copy of the licence form and guidance to complete and return along with the enclosures listed on the application form and the relevant fee to the address listed below. 

Licence Application Guidance Notes (pdf 277 KB)
HMO Licence Application Form (word 1.15 MB)

Contact details

Phone: 01246 345748


By post: Private sector housing team, Chesterfield Borough Council, Suite 9 Venture House, Venture Way, Dunston Road, Chesterfield, S41 8NR

Last updated on 22 October 2018