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Houses in multiple occupation


What is a house in multiple occupation?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is:

  • A house or flat let to three or more people, who belong to one or more households (family) and share a kitchen, bathroom or a toilet
  • A house converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and let to three or more people who belong to one or more households and share a kitchen, bathroom or a toilet
  • A house which is converted into one or more flats which are not completely self-contained and is occupied by three or more people who form two or more households
  • A building converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and one third or more of the flats are occupied by people on short term rental agreements

Certain types of HMO require a licence and anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed has to apply to the council. If you need to apply for a licence then please complete the HMO licensing form online (opens in new window).

Use our online form to find out whether a property is an HMO (opens in new window) or if it needs a licence. It should only be used as a guide and there are some exemptions, so if you unsure about whether you may own an HMO please contact the private sector housing team.

For further advice please make a service request (opens in new window), call the council on (01482) 396301 or alternatively email the private sector housing team.

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What fire safety measures are needed in a house in multiple occupation?

Fire safety measures are an important consideration for all rented property, as fire is more likely to occur in a rented property than in an owner-occupied home. The risk of a fire increases with the number of occupants and the government recognises that there is a particular risk of fire in houses in multiple occupation (HMO), especially if the tenants do not know each other.
 
Fire is one of the hazards identified by the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS), which means landlords must assess the risk of fire in rented property and provide appropriate measures to minimise that risk. A combination of automatic fire detection and structural fire precautions may be necessary to address fire safety, depending on the size, type and occupancy of the property. In addition, emergency lighting and other fire precautions may be needed.
 
The following guidance document on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing produced by LACORS, is used by both local authorities and fire authorities, when drawing up the schedule of fire safety works.

Guidance on fire safety provisions (pdf 1mb opens in new window)

The BSI Group website can offer further information on the Kitemark Scheme BS 5839-6: 2004 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings - Part 6: Code of practice for the design, installation and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in dwellings.

BSI Group website (external website).

Landlords should also be aware that a written fire risk assessment is a requirement for all HMO’s. The following fire risk assessment document on the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service website, can be used to assist in producing a risk assessment for a HMO.

Fire Risk Assessement Form (pdf 172kb external website) 

More information on fire risk assessments can be obtained by contacting Humberside Fire and Rescue Service.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (external website).

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What duties do I have if I manage a house in multiple occupation?

The Housing Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 regulations apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) other than converted blocks of flats to which section 257 of the Housing Act 2004 applies. Management regulations which cover Section 257 HMO's were introduced in October 2007.

The HMO management regulations place a number of duties upon the manager of a HMO. Both landlords and managing agents should ensure they are compliant with these regulations on an ongoing basis. Failure to comply may result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5000 for each offence.

A summary of the manager’s duties include:

  • Duty to supply information - the name, address and a contact telephone
    number for the manager must be clearly displayed in a prominent position within the HMO
  • Duty to maintain fire safety measures – all escape routes must be kept safe
    and free from obstruction. Alarms, detection and extinguishers must be maintained and certificated. Appropriate fire escape signs must be displayed if occupancy exceeds four persons
  • Duty to protect occupiers from injury – appropriate safeguards must be
    maintained in relation to roofs, balconies and low windowsills
  • Duty to maintain water supply and drainage – all services and fittings shall
    be maintained in good, clean working order and free from frost damage
  • Duty to supply and maintain gas and electricity – the fixed electrical installation must be inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding five years, certificates to be supplied to the local authority within seven days of a request. Neither gas nor electricity supplies should be unreasonably interrupted
  • Duty to maintain common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances - should all be kept clean, in good repair and in good working order. These include gas, electric, lighting, heating, hot water, toilets, baths, wash-basins, sinks, cookers, fridges, food storage, windows, ventilation, yards, paths, gardens and so on
  • Living accommodation - each room must be kept in good repair and installations in good working order. Each room must be in a clean condition at the beginning of the tenant’s occupation
  • Disposal of refuse and litter - litter must not be allowed to accumulate and bins adequate to the requirements of the tenants should be provided

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What working arrangements does the council have with Humberside Fire and Rescue Service to ensure fire safety in houses in multiple occupation?

The introduction of the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has placed responsibility on both local housing authorities and fire and rescue authorities to enforce reasonable fire safety provisions within multiple occupied housing. To promote the efficient use of resources, a fire safety protocol sets down a framework within which both authorities can establish effective working arrangements, thereby achieving the goal of improving fire safety. 
 
The following protocol 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.

Housing Fire Safety Protocol (pdf 721kb opens in new window)

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