Houses in Multiple Occupation

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property where three or more unrelated occupiers pay rent for exclusive use of part of the property and share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen with someone else in the property. One of the occupiers could be the owner.

HMO Rules and Regulations

HMOs have specific rules that apply such as:

  • fire precautions
  • overcrowding standards
  • management of repair and decoration
  • Planning and upkeep of basic facilities for preparing and cooking food and toilet and bathing.

To make sure that these rules are followed, Regulatory Services Officers of the Private Sector Housing (PSH) team visit all HMOs in the City.

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.

Email or call 01702 215002.

There are three main types of HMOs



S. 254, of the Housing Act 2004


A house or flat which is let to:

  • at least three tenants who pay rent or some other consideration and have no other home
  • forming two or more households
  • sharing a facility such as a bathroom, toilet or kitchen

Licensable HMO


Part 2 Housing Act 2004


  • HMOs that are occupied by five or more people who form two or more households and share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen.

Certain converted blocks of flats


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:

  1. all members of the household are related, or
  2. if a couple is living as husband or wife (or equivalent relationship)

Houses in Multiple Occupation - Licensing

HMOs occupied by five or more persons in two or more households are required to be licensed. It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without an HMO licence.

The Council has powers and duties to act should you operate a licensable HMO but fail to make a full application with fee within a reasonable or requested period. This would constitute an offence with a maximum penalty of £30,000. Where owners and operators fail to apply, the Council also has powers to claim back housing benefit paid as rent through a Rent Repayment Order (RRO). They can also take control of the property, including control over tenancies and rent through an Interim Management Order (IMO).

How do I apply for an HMO Licence?

The council uses specialist software to assist in the application and processing of property licences including HMO licences.

Go to the property licensing portal and select HMO as your licence type.

HMO Licence Register in Southend

HMO Licence Register

The register and its content is a statutory requirement on the council. It is to identify licensed HMOs and management arrangements. It is not meant for marketing purposes and none of the individuals or organisations mentioned within this register have given their consent for such use. The HMO register directory is continually being updated. If you need to rely on the register for any legal purposes, please email the private sector housing team to request a copy of the current HMO licence register.

Contact us – Private Sector Housing

Telephone: 01702 215002

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