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What type of property is classed as a ‘House of Multiple Occupation (HMO)’?

A HMO has:

  • at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • there are shared toilet/bathroom and kitchen facilities with other tenants[1]

A large HMO is defined as:

  • the property has least 3 storeys
  • at least 5 unrelated tenants live there
  • at least 2 households living there
  • there are shared toilet/bathroom and kitchen facilities with other tenants

NB: A household is classed as either a single person or members of the same family who live together.

A large HMO has certain standards and obligations that the landlord of the property must adhere to. These include:

  • proper fire safety measures are in place – for licensed HMOs smoke detectors must be installed
  • annual gas safety checks are carried out
  • electrics are checked every 5 years
  • the property is not overcrowded
  • there are adequate cooking and washing facilities
  • communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair
  • there are enough rubbish bins/bags[2]
  • the manager of the house – you or an agent – is considered to be ‘fit and proper’, eg no criminal record, or breach of landlord laws or code of practice

Large HMO’s must also obtain a licence from the local council, plus some HMO’s must also have a licence, depending on the rules set by the local council that the property is located in[3].

A landlord can be fined for renting out a HMO without the appropriate licence and ordered to repay up to £20,000 or 12 months’ rent (including any housing benefit received) to the local council. A licence is valid up to maximum of 5 years. The local council also requests that the owner of the HMO must:

  • send the council an updated gas safety certificate every year
  • install and maintain smoke alarms
  • provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested

For more information as a HMO Owner, please click on this link to access a booklet published by the government’s Department of Communities & Local Government:

If your property is in Cambridge, link on the following links for further information: &




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