Are these scenarios HMO or not?

I’m trying to understand the definition of a HMO and, whilst it’s often clear cut, there are a couple of scenarios where I’m not quite so sure and it would be good to get clarity:

  1. 3 people - an unmarried couple sharing with the sister of one of the couple
  2. 3 people - an unmarried couple sharing with an unrelated friend of one of the couple
  3. 2 people - both friends but unrelated

Can anyone please advise?

(Assume two bedroom with shared bathroom, kitchen and lounge)

When you find out let me know.!!

this is very easy to find out, just contact your local council private housing sector (HMO) and they will tell you for sure.

It used to be a correlation of the number of individual tenants and the number of storeys in your property.

I cannot quote the figures as I believe they have changed the criteria since I last checked some years ago.

I would follow Andrews advice, and check with your local authority housing department.

Scenario 1 and 2 are both HMO’s. Whether they are licensable or not will depend on the local authority.

The government definition is ;

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

That makes sense however there is a second part to the definition you linked to:

A household consists of either a single person or members of the same family who live together. It includes people who are married or living together and people in same-sex relationships.

In a scenario where A and B are a couple and live with C (who is the sister of B), B appears to be living in a single occupancy household - because they are related to C and living together with A.

Hence my confusion!

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Hi Richard,

That follows my understanding of the rules too. Only the second example is a HMO.


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I agree mi62014. I remember Tessa Shepperson did a little training video on all this. Scenario 1 is not an HMO as they all relate through B. If there were 4 people, where D was partner to C, and C or B left the houseshare, the relationships fall apart and it becomes an HMO. Weird because you would think 4 people is a more risky set up fire-wise than 3 people, but I believe that is the case!

andrew8 is spot on. an hmo is essentially non related people not forming a “family” group whom share some facilities. …then you get into is it 3 storey, are there 5+ people , is there a safety case etc. so its smart to talk to the council and they do actually vary between councils

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