Types of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

There are three categories an HMO can fall within based on the mode of occupation.

1. Shared house HMOs

Shared houses are described as HMOs where the whole property has been rented out by an identifiable group of sharers such as students or work colleagues working for a single employer under contract.

Each occupant normally has their own bedroom, but they share the kitchen, dining facilities, bathroom, WC, living room and all other parts of the house.

All the tenants will have exclusive legal possession and control of all parts of the house, including all the bedrooms and these wouldn’t usually have individual locks. There is normally a significant degree of social interaction between the occupants and they will, in the main, have rented out the house as one group. There is a single joint tenancy agreement inclusive of all the occupants named individually on the agreement.

In summary, the group will possess many of the characteristics of a single-family household, although the property is still technically an HMO as the occupants are not all related. This would not include ‘head tenancies’ or ‘Company lets’, where the occupants do not have a work contract with the company renting the property.

2. Bedsit-type shared house and bedsit HMOs

Bedsit-type HMOs are those which have been converted into a number of separate non self-contained bedsit lettings, floor-by-floor lets, or shared houses where the occupants are on separate tenancies and do not have a close or identifying bond to each other.

Typically, there will be individual cooking facilities within each bedsit, but alternatively, there may be shared cooking facilities or a mixture of the two. Toilets and bathing/washing facilities will mostly be shared. There may or may not be a communal living or dining room (depending on bedroom/bedsit size requirements).

Each bedsit or letting will be let to separate individuals who will live independently, with little or no communal living between them. Each letting will have its own individual tenancy agreement and there will usually be a lock on each individual letting door. This would include ‘head tenancies’ or ‘Company lets’.

The mode of occupation will dictate the classification of the property and what may appear to be a shared house might actually be bedsit-type accommodation. The mode of occupation will affect the facilities that are required as well as fire safety requirements and mandatory HMO licensing. It is important that landlords, owners and agents identify their properties correctly to ensure compliance and safety, however, the classification of what category any property falls into will be the decision of the officer based on the information provided and what is established during the property inspection.

3. Section 257 HMOs

Section 257 HMOs are self-contained units within a converted property which have their own kitchen, bathroom and WC facilities within the unit for the sole use of the occupants, but the building does not comply with Building Regulations 1991 and less than two-thirds of the self-contained units are owner-occupied. In this scenario, the building itself would be an HMO under Section 254 of the Housing Act 2004.

Section 257 HMOs would be expected to meet the same standards contained within this document and the minimum room sizes applicable to bedsit HMOs.

Section 257 HMO example:

123 Arun Street is a building which has been converted into three self-contained flats. The building work relating to the conversion took place before 1 June 1992 (the date Building Regulations 1991 came into force), and two out of the three flats are rented by tenants; the remaining flat is owner-occupied. 123 Arun Street is a Section 257 HMO because:

  • it has been converted into and consists of self-contained flats,
  • the conversion work does not comply with Building Regulations 1991, and
  • less than two-thirds of the self-contained flats are owner-occupied