North East Lincolnshire Council

Houses in multiple occupation

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a building, or part of a building, such as a flat, that:

  • is occupied by more than one household and where more than one household shares (or lacks) an amenity, such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities
  • is occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building – but not entirely self-contained flats (whether or not some amenities are shared or lacking)
  • is converted self contained flats, but does not meet as a minimum standard the requirements of the 1991 Building Regulation, and at least one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies.

The building is occupied by more than one household:

  • as their only or main residence
  • as a refuge for people escaping domestic violence
  • by students during term time
  • for other purposes prescribed by the government.

A household is:

  • families (including single people, couples and same sex couples)
  • other relationships, such as fostering, carers and domestic staff.

When is a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) Licensable?

A HMO is a house in multiple occupation and applies to buildings that are either a single dwelling or a flat where one or more separate households share facilities such as kitchens, a toilet and bathroom.

In April 2006 the government introduced a compulsory licensing system for certain types of HMOs. Those HMOs that are over three stories and are occupied by five or more persons comprising of two separate households must be licensed.

The council is responsible for maintaining a licensing scheme for properties of this type, so if your property fits the criteria outlined, contact the Home Improvement Team to ask for assistance. Further guidance on fire safety guidelines for HMO’s can be viewed in the Lacors Guidance on fire safety provisions (PDF).

Licensing is intended to make sure that:

  • Landlords of HMOs are fit and proper people, or employ managers who are
  • each HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence
  • the standard of management of the HMO is adequate
  • High risk HMOs can be identified and targeted for improvement

Where landlords refuse to meet these criteria the council can intervene and manage the property so that:

  • Vulnerable tenants can be protected
  • HMOs are not overcrowded
  • Councils can identify and support landlords, especially with regeneration and tackling antisocial behaviour.

Advice for converting a property into a House of Multiple Occupancy

There are a number of considerations to remember, when converting an existing property into a House of Multiple Occupancy.  You will need to consider whether or not you need planning permission, building regulations and if the property will meet housing legislative standards.

We recommend you contact the Home Improvement Service for advice on any proposed works.

To apply for an HMO licence complete the HMO Licensing Application Form.

Home Improvement Team, Origin 2, Origin Way, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN37 9TZ


Telephone: 01472 326296

Opening times: Monday to Thursday 9 am to 5 pm, Friday 9 am to 4.30 pm, except bank holidays