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Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO's) and Licensing

What is a House in Multiple Occupancy?

A House in Multiple Occupancy is often known or referred to as an ‘HMO’.  The definitions of what a HMO is can get quite complex, but in very basic terms it is a property occupied by at least 3 people who are not from one ‘household’ (e.g. a family) but share facilities like the bathroom, toilet, kitchen etc. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’ and so many student properties fall within this definition.

So why might this be relevant or useful to know?

If your property is an HMO there are specific duties that fall on the landlord/manager of the HMO in terms or repair, maintenance, safety and security of the property, to ensure certain minimum standards are provided.  The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupations (England) Regulations 2006 cover all these requirements.  The GOV.UK website also has more information.  

Newcastle City Council have a Multiple Occupancy team who can ensure compliance with these requirements is carried out and support tenants who believe this is not the case.  Students based in London should consult their local council for equivalent teams. 

What is a ‘Licenced’ House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO)?

A landlord is required to obtain a Licence for an HMO if the property:

  • has 5 or more unrelated people live in it
  • has 2 or more separate households living there

This is known as Mandatory Licensing as it is required by law.

However, some Local Authorities have Additional Licencing schemes that require other properties to hold a Licence too.

Newcastle City Council have recently introduced Additional Licencing since April 2020 and now a greater number of landlords/Agents of HMO’s are required to have an HMO licence. So where only larger HMO's rented to 5 or more people required a licence previously, but this now applies to properties where 3 or more unrelated people share facilities. The Additional Licencing scheme is mostly concerned with the number of households/individuals living at the property rather than the size of the property.

*As this extension is relatively new, many properties still do not have a licence where one is now required. This might be because your landlord is not aware of this requirement or is deliberately avoiding applying for one. Either way, it is an offence and they can face fines or a prosecution*.

**The licence should be displayed in the property but if it isn’t and you are unsure, you can search the registers on Newcastle City Council website. Students in London should search their respective council web pages for public registers or London Property Licensing.

For the smaller HMO's (more than three occupants but less than 5) that have just come into the scope of licencing since April, the applications might still be being processed and not be displayed in the property or appear on the register yet**

If you are in doubt or believe the property is not Licenced and should be you can report this
Property Licensing Unlicensed Property Notification or the Advice Centre can do this for you.

In addition to the Management Regulations mentioned above that apply to all HMO’s, these Licenced HMO’s have to adhere to an additional set of property licensing standards. Failure to have a licence or to comply with any of the regulations and standards can lead to penalties against the Landlord/Manager.

For more assistance contact either the Student Advice Centre or the City council HMO Team.

Links to:

Housing Guide

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Last updated: 17 November 2020