Houses in multiple occupation

Explains what a house in multiple occupation is, fire safety measures that are needed and what duties you have to manage a house in multiple occupation.

What is a house in multiple occupation?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is:

  • a house or flat let to three or more people, who belong to more than one household (family) and share a kitchen, bathroom or a toilet
  • a house converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and let to three or more people who belong to more than one household and share a kitchen, bathroom or a toilet
  • a house which is converted into one or more flats which are not completely self-contained, and is occupied by three or more people who belong to more than one household
  • a building converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and one third or more of the flats are occupied by people on short-term rental agreements.

Certain types of HMO require a licence and anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed has to apply to the council.

If you need to apply for a licence then please complete the HMO licensing form online (opens in new window).

For further advice please make a service request (opens in new window) or email:

What amenities and space standards are needed for an HMO?

A house in multiple occupation must have rooms of a reasonable size and have enough bathrooms, cooking facilities and toilets for the number of people living there.

Find more information in the following document:

HMO Guidance and Amenity Standards (pdf 751kb)

What fire safety measures are needed in a house in multiple occupation?

Fire safety measures are an important consideration for all rented property, as fire is more likely to occur in a rented property than in an owner-occupied home. The risk of a fire increases with the number of occupants and the government recognises that there is a particular risk of fire in houses in multiple occupation (HMO), especially if the tenants do not know each other.

Fire is one of the hazards identified by the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS), which means landlords must assess the risk of fire in rented property and provide appropriate measures to minimise that risk. A combination of automatic fire detection and structural fire precautions may be necessary to address fire safety, depending on the size, type, and occupancy of the property. In addition, emergency lighting and other fire precautions may be needed.

The following guidance document on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing produced by LACORS is used by both local authorities and fire authorities, when drawing up the schedule of fire safety works.

Guidance on fire safety provisions (pdf 1mb)

The BSI Group website can offer further information on the Kitemark Scheme BS 5839-6 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings - Part 6: Code of practice for the design, installation, and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in dwellings.

BSI Group (external website)

Landlords should also be aware that a written fire risk assessment is a requirement for all HMOs. More information on fire risk assessments can be obtained on Humberside Fire and Rescue Service's website:

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (external website)

What duties do I have if I manage a house in multiple occupation?

The Housing Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 regulations apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) that contain shared or non-self contained accommodation. These types of HMOs are defined under Section 254 of the Housing Act 2004.

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 apply to buildings converted into self-contained flats to which section 257 of the Housing Act 2004 applies.

The HMO management regulations place a number of duties upon the manager of an HMO. Both landlords and managing agents should ensure they are compliant with these regulations on an ongoing basis. Failure to comply may result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5000 for each offence.

A summary of the manager’s duties include:

  • duty to supply information - the name, address and a contact telephone number for the manager must be clearly displayed in a prominent position within the HMO
  • duty to maintain fire safety measures - all escape routes must be kept safe and free from obstruction. Alarms, detection and extinguishers must be maintained and certificated. Appropriate fire escape signs must be displayed if occupancy exceeds four persons
  • duty to protect occupiers from injury - appropriate safeguards must be maintained in relation to roofs, balconies and low windowsills
  • duty to maintain water supply and drainage - all services and fittings shall be maintained in good, clean working order and free from frost damage
  • duty to supply and maintain gas and electricity - the fixed electrical installation must be inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding five years, certificates to be supplied to the local authority within seven days of a request. Neither gas nor electricity supplies should be unreasonably interrupted
  • duty to maintain common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances - should all be kept clean, in good repair and in good working order. These include gas, electric, lighting, heating, hot water, toilets, baths, wash-basins, sinks, cookers, fridges, food storage, windows, ventilation, yards, paths, gardens and so on
  • living accommodation reviews - each room must be kept in good repair and installations in good working order. Each room must be in a clean condition at the beginning of the tenant’s occupation
  • disposal of refuse and litter - litter must not be allowed to accumulate and bins adequate to the requirements of the tenants should be provided.

You can find more information at the Government's legislation website:

Housing Act 2004 (external website)

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 (external website)

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 (external website)

What working arrangements does the council have with Humberside Fire and Rescue Service to ensure fire safety in houses in multiple occupation?

The introduction of the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has placed responsibility on both local housing authorities and fire and rescue authorities to enforce reasonable fire safety provisions within multiple occupied housing. To promote the efficient use of resources, a fire safety protocol sets down a framework within which both authorities can establish effective working arrangements, thereby achieving the goal of improving fire safety.

The following protocol contains guidance on which authority should normally take the lead inspection and enforcement role in different types of properties, however, it is accepted that this guidance cannot cover every possible situation and that certain properties may fall into more than one category.

Housing Fire Safety Protocol (pdf 721kb)

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