Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

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HMOs include traditional bedsits, shared houses and hostels.  The information in this section applies of all of these properties unless otherwise stated.

Definition

A dwelling is considered to be an HMO if it contains 3 or more occupants who:

  • do not form a single household,

  • share one or more facilities (kitchens, bathrooms and toilets), and 

  • live in the dwelling as their main place of residence.

The exact definition can be found in Section 254 of the Housing Act 2004.  

Regulations

All HMOs are subject to regulations to ensure that they are properly managed. These regulations impose duties on the manager of a HMO to: 

  • ensure that certain facilities are provided, inspected and maintained
  • ensure that the physical structure of the property is kept in good order, and
  • ensure that residents are provided with contact details for the manager 

Also, the regulations require the tenant to take care of their accommodation and act responsibly.

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 cover all HMOs which do not comprise self-contained units. A person managing an HMO is responsible for carrying out duties imposed by these regulations.

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 cover some buildings that have been converted into self-contained flats. A person managing this type of HMO is responsible for carrying out duties imposed by these regulations.

Amenity Standards

All HMOs must contain a sufficient number of bathrooms, toilets and kitchens for the number of people living in them. These are included within the Council's amenity standards.

Fire Safety in HMOs

All HMOs must be provided with adequate means of escape in case of fire. The Council uses the Fire Safety Guide produced by LACORS.

HMOs need to be provided with the following

  • Half hour fire doors (30 minutes fire resistant)
  • Emergency lighting - one unit on each level
  • Automatic Fire Detection (AFD) - a system of mains powered automatic smoke detectors and heat detectors with battery back-up and built in alarm.  The exact standard will depend on the property
  • Security of doors - if locks are fitted to bedrooms and final exit doors they must be capable of being opened from the inside without the use of keys i.e. Yale or thumb turn locks
  • Fire Blankets - to be provided in all rooms with cooking facilities
  • Protected route - designed to allow residents from all parts of the building to reach the outside without passing through a higher fire risk area

The Council has produced a printable summary guide that can be found here.

HMO licensing


The Housing Act 2004, introduced mandatory licensing for some HMOs.

Mandatory licensing only applies to buildings that are 3 or more storeys (levels) high and occupied by 5 or more people.

The definition of a storey includes basements, commercial premises and loft conversions. 

Landlords must submit a separate licence application for each licensable HMO property that they rent out.   The Council charges a fee for processing a licence application. The fee for processing HMO licence applications is £150 per person with a minimum fee of £750. The licence will last for 5 years.

St Albans City and District Council only have Mandatory Licensing.  Some other local authorities have chosen to expand their licensing schemes to other types of property.  The government recently consulted on HMO licensing.  The results of this are expected to be published later in the year

All licensed HMOs will be inspected to identify disrepair, fire safety, amenity or other safety concerns. Landlords will be required to bring their property up to standard within a fixed period. Licences will be granted if the:

  • house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation,
  • applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence,
  • proposed manager has control of the house and is a fit and proper person to be the manager, and, 
  • management arrangements are satisfactory.

Will tacit consent apply? No

Register of licensed Houses in Multiple Occupation

For further information please email privatesectorhousing@stalbans.gov.uk or telephone 01727 819447

Enforcement

The Private Sector Housing Team have updated the Council’s enforcement policy.  The policy lasts for two years and is reviewed on a regular basis.  During this time we anticipate some revisions and additions to the legislation that the team enforces.  These will be incorporated into the policy as and when the need arises.  Anticipated changes include
 
·         Widening the scope of HMO licensing 
·         New powers to deal with Rogue Landlords
 
For more information please contact the private Sector Housing Team on 01727 819447 or at privatesectorhousing@stalbans.gov.uk

Date of last review: 23 August 2017