Houses in Multiple Occupation


COVID-19 Private Sector Housing:

The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). With these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home.

Government advice for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Houses in Multiple Occupation

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a building or part of a building that is occupied by three or more people forming two or more households. Occupants of HMOs typically share one or more amenities (i.e. toilet, bath and shower room, or kitchen). Certain converted blocks of flats also fall within the HMO definition section 257 HMOs.

It is recognised that properties used as HMOs generally present an increased risk to occupiers than properties that are occupied by single families. An HMO is often occupied by a larger number of people than a single-family home. Poorly managed and badly maintained HMO accommodation can place an increased burden on local services and can have a detrimental impact on the wider neighbourhood. This means that there are a number of additional considerations that apply to the management, maintenance and construction of HMOs:

  • Property licensing – most houses/flats which are occupied by 3 or more individuals forming two or more households who share one or more basic amenities will require either a mandatory HMO licence or an additional (HMO) licence. HMO licensing was introduced to give local authorities the power to regulate standards and conditions in multiply occupied residential premises. Through the property licence process, the Council will ensure that an HMO has sufficient kitchens, baths/showers and WCs. It also places a limit on the number of people permitted to occupy it.
  • HMO property standards – there are additional HMO property standards which apply to HMOs and buildings containing flats
  • Planning permission – in Waltham Forest, an HMO is required to have planning permission that is appropriate to its use, or it is able to demonstrate that the property has established HMO use.
  • Fire safety – most HMOs, including buildings converted into flats, are required to have a higher standard of fire safety in terms of structural fire precautions (fire doors etc) and automatic detection and warning systems (smoke detectors etc). Please refer to the Lacors Fire & Safety guide for more information.
  • Management standards - the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 applies to most HMO properties. It places additional duties on the manager of the property to maintain facilities and services and to undertake other measures to ensure that the occupiers are able to reside in safe accommodation. Similar requirements apply to certain converted blocks of flats ‘Section 257 HMOs’ through regulations dating from 2007.

Bed-sit type HMOs Click to get info

A bedsit is defined by the government as a single unit within a home where the tenant is renting a room but sharing other facilities such as a bathroom and kitchen with other people living in the same building.

Where a building or part of a building has been converted into, and consists wholly of, self-contained flats, it will be an HMO if:

  • the standard of the conversion does not meet that required by the Building Regulations 1991 or 2000 (whichever were in force at the time of the conversion), and
  • fewer than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied. Owner-occupiers are those with a lease of more than 21 years or who own the freehold in the converted block of flats, or a member of the household of the person who is the owner.

For further information see Section 257 of the Housing Act 2004.

Planning Permission Click to get info

HMOs should have a permission which is appropriate to its use or should demonstrate that they have established use.

An Article 4 Direction is in place in Waltham Forest, which means that any HMO of three to six people established after 16 September 2014 [C4 Use Class] will need appropriate planning consent.

The operation of the Article 4 Direction does not affect the longstanding need for larger HMOs accommodating seven or more people to have appropriate planning authorisation. This requirement has been in place for many years.

It may be the case that a property owner will be able to demonstrate that a premises has established use as an HMO such that further planning consent is not required.

The Council will take into account the planning status of an HMO as part of the licence application process. Any unauthorised use is likely to be reflected in a decision to grant a licence with a reduced term, usually for a period of one year. In cases where a reduced term licence is granted, due to a breach of planning control, the Council expects the landlord to take steps to regularise the breach within that same period. This can be done either by remedying the breach (e.g. by returning an unauthorised HMO back to single family use) or by obtaining the necessary planning consent. Further information on planning can be found under ‘Do I need planning permission’.

More information on planning permission:

Fire Risk Assessment Click to get info

Fire risks in and the resulting regulations and guidance in HMOs can be complex due to the varying types of properties, occupancy arrangements and occupier type.

Fire safety regulations and guidance are based on the level of risk presented by an individual property and its mode and level of occupation.

This risk-based approach is enshrined in current fire safety legislation, in particular the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.[link to web page] The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 also states the role of the manager in the management of fire risk.

More information about fire safety standards can be found here.

An occupier means someone who occupies the property as their residence, this includes all people living in the property, both adults and any children, even if they have signed a joint tenancy.

A household is made up of family members, a couple, two unrelated people sharing the same home or a single person.

Unrelated adults that are not a couple or part of a family are treated as separate households. A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property that is occupied by people who do not form a single family household but are from multiple, separate households.

Examples of multiple households/multiple occupation include:

  • a family and a friend renting together
  • more than two students sharing a house
  • more than two professional friends sharing a flat
  • multiple casual workers each renting a separate room in a house

The households must all share amenities such as kitchens and bathrooms.

What is considered a family member?

A person is considered a member of the family of another person if:

  • he or she lives with that person as a couple
  • one of them is the relative of the other
  • or is a relative of one member of the couple.

and where

  • “couple” means two people who are married to each other or live together as husband and wife or in an equivalent arrangement in the case of persons of the same sex
  • “relative” means a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin (where the first cousin is a child of a parent's sibling; a nephew or niece of a parent; a child of one's uncle or aunt; a person who shares common grandparents but not common parents)
  • a relationship of the half-blood is to be treated as a relationship of the whole blood
  • a stepchild of a person is to be treated as his/her child.

By law, we must publish:

Check if a property is licensed

You can check if a property is licensed by searching the register.

If you think a rented property isn't licensed, or that it doesn't comply with the licensing conditions, please let us know by emailing