Definition of an HMO

An HMO is a property occupied by three or more persons from two or more households; a household could be a single person or persons related to each other. 

A family or single household can consist of: husband, wife, co-habitee, child, step-child, foster-child, grandchild, parent, step-parent, foster-parent, grandparent, brother, half-brother, sister, half-sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin.

In the Act, the definition of a HMO is technically complex.  The following is a summary of the HMO definition.

 Summary from - HMOs

 Meaning of an HMO

In order for a building, or part of a building, to form an HMO it must fall within the meaning of one of the following descriptions:

  • a building in which more than one household shares a basic amenity e.g. a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities. This is called ‘the standard test’;
  • a flat in which more than one household shares a basic amenity (all of which are in the flat) e.g. a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities. This is called ‘the self-contained flat test’; 
  • a building that has been converted and does not entirely comprise of self-contained flats. This is called ‘the converted building test’;
  • a building which is comprised entirely of converted self-contained flats and the standard of the conversion does not meet, at a minimum, the standard required by the 1991 Building Regulations, and less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied. This type of building is also known as a section 257 HMO.

HMOs include shared houses, bedsits and buildings converted into self-contained flats.  Some HMOs with shared facilities must also be licensed.

 Buildings that are not HMOs

The following is a summary from Schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004 also taken from the CLG publication mentioned above.

Some buildings are not HMOs for the purpose of the Housing Act 2004 even if they meet the requirements of the HMO definition. These buildings are:

  • those under the management or control of a local housing authority, a registered social landlord or certain other public bodies;
  • those regulated under other enactments, such as care homes, children homes and bail hostels etc.;
  • those occupied solely or mainly by students studying a full time course of further and higher education at a specified education establishment which manages the building in question and the specified education establishment is subject to an approved code of practice and the building in question is subject to that code;
  • those that are occupied for the purpose of a religious community whose main occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering. This exemption does not apply to a converted block of flats within the meaning of section 257 of the 2004 Act occupied by such a community;
  • those that are occupied by a freeholder or long leaseholder and any member of his household (if any) and any other persons not forming part of his household and not exceeding two in number (e.g. owner occupiers household and one or two lodgers).  This does not apply to section 257 HMOs;
  • those that are occupied by only two persons each of whom form a single household e.g. a flat share of no more than two persons.

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