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What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a building that is occupied, as a main residence, by more than one household. 

HMOs include:

  • Buildings that consist of bedsit rooms where at least two households share some basic amenities
  • Buildings with multiple units of accommodation that all have their own exclusive amenities but where they are not all self-contained (i.e. behind their own front door)
  • Buildings that contain a mix of bedsit rooms sharing amenities and units of accommodation that have their own exclusive amenities (self-contained or not) 
  • Shared houses let to a group of friends, usually on a single tenancy agreement, where the tenants sort out their own living arrangements and where there are rooms for communal living
  • Some hostels
  • Buildings converted into self-contained flats where the works of conversion do not comply with the Building Regulations 1991 or subsequent regulations in force at the time of conversion (or which have not been retrospectively upgraded to comply) and where less than two thirds of the flats are owner-occupied. These HMOs are commonly referred to as 'section 257 HMOs' 

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What is a household?

A household refers to members of the same family (including aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins). It also includes partners living together, plus members of their respective families.
For example:

  • A parent and child and a friend would form two households
  • Three friends would form three households

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HMO standards

HMOs are a much needed source of private rented accommodation and serve a growing demand within the private rental market. So it’s essential that these properties are managed effectively to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the tenants living in them.

All HMOs, regardless of whether they are licensable or not, are subject to legislation about how they are managed. There are two main pieces of management legislation:

  • Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006
  • Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 - refers to section 257 HMOs

These regulations place certain duties on the managers of HMOs. All HMOs in Haringey should also comply with the council’s HMO Standards (PDF, 113KB).

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HMOs and planning permission

Planning permission may be required for your HMO. 

If you intend to build or convert a building into a HMO, or to change a family house to a HMO, you may need to apply for planning permission.

If the building or conversion work has already taken place, you may need to apply for retrospective planning permission.

It is your responsibility to find out if your property requires planning permission. You can find out more on our Article 4 Directions page. 

Please note that a HMO licence granted for a property does not confer planning permission on it.

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Further information

More information on HMO licensing can be found in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's publication Houses in Multiple Occupation and residential property licensing reform (external link).

For further information contact us via the details below:

  • Tel: 020 8489 1335
  • Email:
  • Visit in person during office hours: Monday to Friday 8.45am to 5pm:
    • Housing Improvement Team (Private Sector)
      First Floor
      River Park House
      225 High Road
      Wood Green
      N22 8HQ

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Page last updated:

October 15, 2020

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