Housing In Multiple Occupation

What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

HMO's are defined in Part 7 of the Housing Act 2004. They are buildings, part of buildings or flats that:

  • A building in which more than one household shares a basic amenity e.g. a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities (standards test)
  • A flat in which more than one household shares a basic amenity (all of which are in the flat) e.g. bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities (self-contained flats test)
  • A building which has been converted and does not entirely consist of self contained flats (converted building test)
  • A building which is comprised of converted self-contained flats and the standards of the conversion does not meet, at the minimum, the standards required by the 1991 Building Regulations, and less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied (Section 257 HMO).

Exemptions include:

  • Properties under the management or control of a local housing authority a registered social landlord or certain other public bodies
  • Properties regulated under other enactments such as children's homes, care homes and bail hostels
  • Students studying a full time course of further education and higher education at a specified education establishment which manage the building and the specified education establishment is subject to an approved Code of Practice
  • Properties occupied for the purpose of a religious community whose main occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering. The exemption does not apply to section 257 HMO's (see above).
  • Properties occupied by a resident landlord, family and not more than 2 unrelated persons
  • Properties occupied by only two persons each of who form a separate household.

What is a Household?

  • Families, related individuals, couples (including co-inhabiting and same sex couples), or a single person.
  • Other relationships such as fostering and carers
  • Domestic staff who do not pay rent but lives in the same property as the employer.
  • Must be main residence

Fire Safety With in HMO's

  • HMO's have a higher risk of fire than single family dwellings due to increased occupancy, multiple ignition sources, vulnerable occupants, poor construction and lack of fire prevention measures.
  • Fire safety is included in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and is inspected by the Council.
  • Basics precautions:
    - remove polystyrene ceiling tiles
    - discourage use of portable gas or liquid heaters
    - Ensure that the electrical wiring is safe
    - Ensure that gas appliances are tested annually by a Gas Safe Engineer
    - Ensure regular maintenance of all fire apparatus, fire alarms and emergency lighting in line with the current
      British Standards
    - Provide a sensible internal layout
    - Fire resistant surface finishes
    - Property regularly inspected for disrepair
    - Keep escape routes free from obstruction

Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority also inspect HMO's communal areas under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for certain high risk blocks of self contained flats or flats that are above commercial premises with no separate access for fire safety issues.

Fire safety is assessed on a case by case basis as each property is different. Therefore it is difficult to give general advice. If you require specific advice for your property please contact the Private Sector Housing Team.

Examples of fire safety for general layouts can be found below:

Homestamp Booklet

HMO's can be inspected using:

If you are a tenant please in the first instance let your landlord know that there is a problem, in order to give him/her the chance to put it right. You should make a note of the date and details of the complaint. If you do not get a satisfactory response, you can contact the Private Sector Housing Team:-

Joanne Lomax
Property Standards Enforcement Officer
Tel: 01386 565631
Fax: 01386 561092
E-mail: privatesectorhousing@wychavon.gov.uk