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Houses in Multiple Occupation

What is a House in Multiple Occupation?

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property where tenants share an amenity such as bathroom or kitchen with someone else in the property. For examples of HMO's please see the 'What is a House in Multiple Occupation?' leaflet in the download section.

HMO Rules and Regulations

HMO's  have specific regulations that apply such as fire precautions and overcrowding standards. To make sure that these rules and regulations are followed, Private Sector Housing (PSH) Officers inspect all HMOs in the Borough. If you have an HMO or are thinking of starting a HMO please contact PSH with your contact details and the address of the property at:  or 01702 215002.

There are 3 main types of HMOs 

Non-licensable HMO
Law S. 254, of the Housing Act 2004






An entire house or flat which is let to:

  • At least 3 tenants,
  • Forming 2 or more households
  • Sharing a facility such as a bathroom, toilet or kitchen. 
Licensable HMO
Law Part 2 Housing Act 2004





Buildings that are;

  • 3 or more storeys high,
  • 5 or more tenants
  • Forming 2 or more households.
Certain converted blocks of flats  
Law s.257, of the Housing Act 2004




  • A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats, if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations.
  • More than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.

What is a Household?

A household is defined under of the s.258 Housing Act 2004 as: Persons are to be regarded as forming a single household if:

a) all members of the household are related, or

b) if a couple are living as husband or wife (or equivalent relationship).

Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing

The Housing Act 2004 introduced mandatory

licensing for dwellings:

  • Of three or more storeys; and
  • with five or more occupants; and
  • Which form two or more households.

It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without an HMO licence.

How Do I apply for an HMO Licence?

The guidance and application forms are available on:

The application form can be downloaded, typed and submitted electronically, or printed and filled in by hand then sent to us via post.

The fee is £920 for the first 6 lets, and £50 per additional lettable unit thereafter.

The Council has powers and duties to act should you operate a licensable HMO but fail to make a complete application with fee within a reasonable or requested period. This would constitute an offence punishable by prosecution through the courts with a maximum fine of £20,000. Where licence holders fail to apply, the Council also has powers to claim back housing benefit paid rent via a Rent Repayment Order (RRO), or take control of the property, including control over tenancies and rent via an Interim Management Order (IMO).

HMO Licence Register in Southend

The HMO Licence Register is intended for the purpose of identifying licensed HMOs and management arrangements. It is not intended for marketing purposes and none of the individuals or organisations mentioned within this register have given their consent for such use.

Page last updated: 24/07/2018