House in multiple occupation (HMO) and mandatory or additional licences

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

What is a house in multiple occupation (HMO)?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) exists where three or more unrelated people, forming more than one household, live in a property and share amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom and/or WC. This could be a flat, maisonette or a house and the occupiers could be on one or multiple tenancy agreements.  A household is defined as members of the same family.  E.G. a couple and a friend would be seen as an HMO.

What standards do HMOs need to meet? 

All HMOs (licensable and non-licensable) are required to meet fire and amenities standards to ensure the means of escape is protected, there is early warning in the event of a fire, there are sufficient amenities for the number of occupiers, the property is not overcrowded and is in good repair.

This service has adopted the LACORS Housing Fire Safety Guidance and the amenities standards are taken from the Housing Act 2004.

From 1st October 2018, the Government has introduced statutory minimum room sizes for HMOs.  However, Kingston Council have their own published minimum room sizes which will continue to be applied to all licences issued.  The Council's minimum room sizes can be viewed here.

Do I have any legal duties for my HMO?

Yes. HMOs are covered by various legislations, but in particular the Housing Act 2004 and The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 which lists eight specific duties which you must follow. 

Do I need a licence for my HMO?

You may need a licence to operate your HMO. We operate two licensing schemes for HMOs: mandatory licensing and additional licensing:  

  • Any property with 5 or more unrelated occupiers, forming more than 1 *household and sharing amentities;
  • Any property with 3 or more stories with 3 or more unrelated occupiers, forming more than 1 *household and sharing amentities

Habitable basements, loft conversions and commercial units all count as a storey.

Purpose build blocks with more than 4 flats are now exempt from HMO Licensing.  Note they may still be HMOs are required to meet our fire and amenity standards.  

*Household is defined under the Housing Act 2004 as members of the same family including cohabiting couples.

The number of occupiers includes resident landlords and their household. 

If you are a resident landlord, you are allowed 2 lodgers before your property is classed as a HMO.

For example: a 2 storey flat owned by X, above a shop owned by Y and occupied by 3 friends would be classed as a three storey property and would be licensable.

Changes to Mandatory Licensing from 1st October 2018

From 1st October 2018 Mandatory HMO licensing is changing.  Any property with 5 or more occupants, from 2 or more separate households, sharing a basic amenity, will require a mandatory licence.

This licensing criteria is currently included in the Council's Additional licensing scheme therefore if you currently hold an additional licence, you are not required to take any action.

Any licence applications received on or after 1st October 2018 that meet this criteria will be issued with a mandatory licence.