Houses in multiple occupation

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is any building or part of a building such as a house, flat, maisonette, bungalow etc that is occupied by people who do not live as a single household (i.e. people in a family relationship) and where they share (or lack) one or more basic amenities, such as a toilet, or personal washing and cooking facilities.

Bedsit accommodation and houses, or flats occupied by sharers where there is no family relationship, are examples of HMOs.

An HMO can also be a house or building that has been converted into self-contained flats, if the conversion was below the standards set by the Building Regulations 1991 and at least one third of the flats are tenanted. A purpose-built block of flats is not an HMO, however, an individual flat within it might be if it is let to four or more tenants.

If you live in an HMO, your landlord must meet certain standards and obligations. Find out more about HMOs from Shelter: Rights and responsibilities in a shared home , or for further help and advice contact:

Is my property an HMO?

To find out if a property is an HMO and if it should be licensed, visit: Residential Landlords Association . Their guide may be helpful.

Licensing of HMOs

The Housing Act 2004, introduced licensing of HMOs. Landlords and property managing agents who let HMOs, need to apply for a licence from the Local Authority. Failure to do this can lead to fines up to £20,000, a criminal record and potentially rent repayment orders.

HMOs must be licensed if they have:

  • three or more storeys;
  • and are occupied by 5 or more people from 2 or more households;
  • and there is a shared amenity, such as, kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

Visit the website and read the Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England guide. This will tell you if your landlord needs a licence for your house and what this means for you.

How do I apply for an HMO licence?

To apply for an HMO licence

To apply for a landlords HMO licence, download, complete and return the: PDFHouses in Multiple Occupation licence application form [PDF 774KB] .

For an electronic or printed form, contact:

Note: There is a fee for processing the application and inspection of the HMO.

For a list of Housing fees, see: Fees and charges .

Check the HMO register

Calderdale Council maintains a register of all HMOs in the Borough. This is a legal document that contains information Councils must keep for each registered property.

To view the register (concise version), read: PDFLicensed houses in multiple occupation [PDF 93KB] .

Note: This version of the register is not a definitive record. It is updated from time to time and contains only part of the information held on the full register.

To view the full register, please make an appointment, contact:

HMO legislation

All HMOs are subject to government legislation. This places certain duties and responsibilities on individuals that are managing the property, namely:

  • to provide occupiers with the manager’s name and contact details;
  • to ensure that all fire escapes are kept clear of obstacles and kept in good order. To ensure fire safety measures are maintained in good working order. To ensure that adequate fire safety measures are in place with regard to design, structural conditions and numbers of occupiers in the HMO;
  • provision of adequate water supply and drainage;
  • gas and electricity supply must not be unreasonably interrupted;
  • fixed electrical installation to be inspected every 5 years;
  • provide gas and electrical inspection certificates within 7 days when required by the Local Housing Authority (i.e. Calderdale Council);
  • ensure common parts of the HMO are maintained in good order. This includes outbuildings, gardens and boundaries;
  • ensure living accommodation and contents are clean before occupiers move in and maintained in good repair and working order throughout the tenancy;
  • and provide adequate means of storage and disposal for waste produced in the property.

Tenants have responsibilities too, they must:

  • allow the manager access at reasonable times to carry out the above duties;
  • conduct themselves in a manner that does not hinder the landlord in the performance of their duties;
  • take reasonable care not to damage the property;
  • store and dispose of waste properly;
  • and comply with fire safety instructions.

Failure to comply with the legislation is a criminal offence, which can result in a fine of up to £5,000 per offence.

Housing Act 2004 and Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

The Housing Act 2004 not only deals with HMOs, but covers all types of accommodation and includes an assessment system called the: Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This assessment system is used to evaluate risks in residential property.

Fire safety protocol

In general, fire safety in residential properties is covered by the following 2 pieces of legislation. These place responsibilities on both the Local Housing Authority and the Fire and Rescue Service to enforce fire safety provisions within HMOs:

A protocol has been produced between the Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, which sets out a framework of how fire safety legislation will be enforced in multiple occupied housing. This 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.

If you have concerns about the standard of a house in multiple occupation in Calderdale, contact:

Standards of fire protection in HMOs

The Housing Act 2004 is the principal tool used to assess and regulate fire safety standards. These standards will be reflected in the HMO licensing conditions.

For guidance on fire safety provisions in certain types of existing houses, read: PDFFire Safety Standards in Dwellings [PDF 862KB] .

Furniture Fire Safety Regulations

The Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1998 set standards for the fire resistance of domestic upholstered furniture and furnishings.

The regulations apply to:

  • landlords or agents, when letting a property or replacing furniture, including holiday lets;
  • and manufacturers and retailers of new or second-hand furniture, including charity shops and mail order firms.

Any accommodation let since 1st January 1997 must contain only furniture and furnishings that comply. There are few exemptions that still apply to long-standing tenancies, but the furniture in the majority of current lettings will be covered by the regulations.

Any upholstered furnishings provided by the landlord should be fire resistant. This applies to all landlords, including private landlords, HMO landlords and Council landlords.

Upholstered furniture includes:

  • sofas and armchairs;
  • beds, headboards and mattresses;
  • sofa beds and futons;
  • nursery and children's furniture;
  • loose and stretch covers for furniture;
  • cushions and seat pads;
  • furniture in new caravans;
  • garden furniture which is used indoors.

There should be a symbol on your furniture to state that it is fire resistant.

If furnishings in your home are not fire resistant and your landlord will not replace them, report this to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, via the Citizens Advice: Report to Trading standards . They can take action against your landlord.

Always open first panel: 

See also