Houses in Multiple Occupation

What is a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’?

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

Planning Permission

Planning permission is not needed to turn an existing dwelling in East Staffordshire into a HMO which houses up to 6 people.

HMOs which house more than 6 people do require planning permission.

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.

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 display them in the property
  • keeps means of escape free from obstruction and in good repair and maintains fire fighting equipment and alarms
  • takes reasonable measures to ensure that the occupiers of the HMO are not injured on account of its design and structural condition
  • ensures there is adequate drainage from the HMO and an adequate water supply and such supply is not unreasonably interrupted
  • supplies annual gas safety certificates (if gas is supplied) to the council when requested, carries out safety checks on electrical installations every five years and ensures the supply of gas (if any) and electricity is not unreasonably interrupted
  • keeps in repair (including decorative repair) and good order the common parts (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; and
  • provides suitable facilities for the disposal of rubbish.

The occupiers:

  • do nothing to hinder or prevent the manager from carrying out his or her duties under the regulations
  • take reasonable care not to damage anything for which the manager has a duty to repair, maintain, keep in good order or supply under the regulations
  • dispose of rubbish in accordance with the arrangements made by the manager; and
  • comply with all reasonable instructions from the manager 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:

  • Tel (01283) 508578
  • Email
  • Visit the Council’s Customer Service Centres based in the Market Place, Burton upon Trent or Uttoxeter Library, Uttoxeter.
  • Write to: Housing Standards, PO Box 8045, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 9JG