Welcome to sthelens.gov.uk

Best place to find information and services that your council provides...

Houses in Multiple Occupation

What is a House in Multiple Occupation?

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property, which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share facilities such as a bathroom, kitchen, toilet or living room.

It may include bedsits, shared houses, non-self contained flats and some self contained flats.

Houses fully converted into self contained flats will usually not be HMOs as long as they were converted following 'appropriate' Building Regulation standards. As a minimum, this will be the 1991 Building Regulations.

In general, the sole use of the property must be as an HMO. However, the council may 'declare' a property to be an HMO where there is significant usage.

HMO Standards

If you let rooms in a property that qualifies as a HMO then the property must provide a safe, healthy and warm environment for your tenants.

For more information about the standards required in various types of HMO property;

HMO Enforcement

The Council works within an Intervention and Enforcement Policy framework, which looks to ensure all enforcement procedures whether formal or informal is forwarded in an open, helpful, proportionate and consistent manner.

HMO Licence

Under Section 61 of the Housing Act 2004 a HMO which falls within the prescribed description as set out by Section 3 of The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006, will require a 5 YEAR licence if it,

  1. comprises of three storeys or more,
  2. is occupied by five or more persons, and
  3. it is occupied by persons living in two or more single households.

There are specific Management Regulations, which set out the way in which such a property should be managed.

The Government are also planning to produce an Approved Code of Practice describing good management standards.

Each Local Housing Authority is obliged to make their register of licenseable Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's) available to the public, this is available below.

Public Register of HMO's in St.Helens

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Houses in Multiple Occupation pose a greater risk to the health and safety of people living in them. Very often, people who live in HMO's do not know the other people living in the building with them, and the risks of fire and other hazards arise as a result of this. 

The Housing Act 2004 provides powers for us to inspect property for Category 1 and 2 hazards. Once inspected we rate the likelihood that the hazard seen will cause harm to the people living in or visiting the property. To do this we use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Our housing inspectors are fully trained and authorized in this procedure and following their inspection they will rate any hazard seen and then consider the most appropriate action to take e.g.

  1. informal action for low level hazards such as writing to the landlord and listing the problem(s) seen OR
  2. serving formal notice for category 1 and/or high level category 2 hazards stating what the hazard is and how it should be removed 

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Some HMO's will need to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, (often referred to as the RRO or fire Safety Order). These will typically be houses let as bedsits, hostels and blocks of flats.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force on 1st October 2006. This legislation requires a competent and responsible person, who has a degree of control over the building, to carry out a satisfactory fire risk assessment; and implement and maintain adequate standards of fire safety in the building. The Fire Safety guidance sheet provides information for Landlords.


You can contact us by

E-mail:  contactcentre@sthelens.gov.uk

Telephone:  (01744) 676789

Writing to:  Private Housing Initiatives, Town Hall, Victoria Square, St Helens, WA10 1HP