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Houses in multiple occupation

The Council is responsible for the regulation of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

What is an HMO?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is occupied by people who do not form a single household and have to share basic amenities like a bathroom, toilet or kitchen.

A property 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.  

More information about HMOs can be found in the following leaflet.

Regulations Toggle accordion

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 Toggle accordion

The Council has standards for all HMOs relating relate to fire safety, the provision of 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 Toggle accordion

All HMOs must be provided with adequate means of escape in case of fire. The Council uses the Fire Safety Guide produced in partnership with the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

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

All HMOs must have a fire risk assessment. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires the ‘responsible person’, who could be the landlord/licence holder or an agent with full management control, to carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment. This is enforced by the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Guidance on fire safety measures and fire risk assessments is provided in the following guide.

HMO licensing Toggle accordion

St Albans City and District Council only have mandatory licensing of HMOs. 

The Housing Act 2004 introduced mandatory licensing for some HMOs. Mandatory licensing applies to buildings that are occupied by 5 or more people. Operating a licensable HMO without a licence or breaching any conditions attached to a licence is a serious criminal offence for which the Council may issue a civil penalty of up to £30,000 or take prosecution action that could result in an unlimited fine upon summary conviction

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 £195 per person with a minimum fee of £975. The licence will last for up to 5 years. The Council charges a fee of £217 for varying a licence.

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

HMO Licence application form and Guidance notes

Register of licensed Houses in Multiple Occupation Toggle accordion

The Council is obliged under Section 232 of the Housing Act 2004 and Statutory Instrument 2006/373 to publish a register of Licensed HMOs.

An online register of licensed premises is available on the following link: Online Register

An extended copy of the register is published below.

Reporting a suspected HMO Toggle accordion

If you know of a property that is offered for rent as a house in multiple occupation, or if you suspect a possible HMO that is not on our register, please notify us using the contact details below.

More information

For more information, please contact the Private Sector Housing Team by email or call 01727 819 355