Houses in Multiple Occupation

What is a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’?

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a single property that is occupied by three or more people living as more than one household and who share basic amenities.

  • A household is defined as occupiers of the same family and includes spouses, co-habitees, same sex couples and any blood relative.
  • Basic amenities means a toilet, personal washing facilities, or cooking facilities.

HMOs include bedsits, shared houses, flats, houses partly converted into self-contained flats, hostels and accommodation above shops.

Houses converted to self-contained flats before 1991 (so not in accordance with the 1991 Building Regulations) will also be HMOs.

ESBC's HMO Policy

For further information please see the Council's HMO Policy.

Which HMOs need a licence?

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a requirement for HMOs to be licensed if they have:

5 or more occupants; and
2 or more households

Further information and to Apply for a Houses in Multiple Occupation Licence.

Planning Requirements

On the 31st of March 2022 East Staffordshire Borough Council confirmed an Article 4 direction to remove permitted development rights for changes of use between class C3 and C4 within the settlement boundary of Burton on Trent. This means that from 1st of April 2023 planning permission will be required to convert a residential dwelling in class C3 to a small house of multiple occupation (class C4).  For further information please contact

Other Requirements

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply to all HMOs whether or not they have to be licensed. They impose certain duties on managers and occupiers of such buildings. Broadly those duties include a requirement that:

The manager:

  • provides his or her contact details to the occupiers and displays them in the property
  • keeps means of escape free from obstruction and in good repair and maintains firefighting equipment and alarms
  • ensures that the occupiers of the HMO are not injured because of its design and condition
  • ensures there is suitable drainage from the HMO and a suitable water supply which is not unreasonably interrupted
  • provides annual gas safety certificates (if gas is supplied) to the council when requested
  • carries out safety checks on electrical installations every five years
  • Ensures the supply of gas (if any) and electricity is not unreasonably interrupted
  • keeps in repair and good condition the property (including any fixtures and fittings within it)
  • maintains any shared garden and keeps in repair any structures belonging to the HMO
  • keeps in repair the occupiers’ living accommodation within the HMO, including fixtures and fittings
  • provides suitable facilities for the disposal of rubbish

The occupiers:

  • Do nothing to stop or prevent the manager from carrying out his or her duties
  • take reasonable care not to damage anything for which the manager is responsible
  • dispose of rubbish in accordance with the arrangements made by the manager
  • comply with reasonable instructions relating to fire safety

The “manager” in these regulations includes the landlord or a person responsible for the management of the HMO.

ESBC's Housing Enforcement Policy

For further information on the Council's duty to ensure HMOs meet the relevant health and safety requirements, please refer to the ESBC Housing Enforcement Policy.

Contact Details

Contact Environmental Health for advice: