Houses 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.  These can be reviewed in the Standards Guidance.   

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 mandatory licensing for the London Borough of Sutton:  

Any property with 5 or more unrelated occupiers, forming more than 1 *household and sharing amenities;

Purpose built blocks with more than 3 flats are now exempt from HMO Licensing.  Note they may still be classified as HMOs that 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.

Please contact the Residential Enforcement Team for advice on 020 8770 5000 or email us at