Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), sometimes referred to as Houses in Multiple Occupancy, represent a substantial section of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in the UK but the rules and regulations involved are complex and there’s often confusion about the definition of an HMO.
The House of Commons library at the end of 2013 has produced useful guidance on this in the form of two ‘notes’ on up-to-date definitions: requirements for planning permission and use classes, and HMO licenses, as well as proposals for future debates on policy issues.
These documents form really good sources of up-to-date information for landlords letting agents and housing advisors.
Note 1: Houses in multiple occupation – Commons Library Standard Note – Published 30 December 2013 | Standard notes SN00708 – Author: Wendy Wilson
Topic: Housing, Housing standards, Private rented housing
Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 repealed Part XI of the Housing Act 1985 and introduced a new definition of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) as well as, with effect from 6 April 2006, a new scheme for controlling conditions in houses in multiple occupation. Certain ‘high risk’ HMOs are now subject to mandatory licensing. Part 2 of the 2004 Act fulfilled the Labour Party’s 1997 and 2001 manifesto commitments to introduce a mandatory HMO licensing scheme.
Background information on the provisions, including information on the old HMO definition and systems previously in place for regulating conditions in HMOs, can be found in Library Research Paper 04/02, The Housing Bill; readers new to this subject might find it easier to read this first. This note gives an overview of the HMO provisions introduced in 2006. The Department for Communities and Local Government published two guides on HMO licensing, one for tenants and one for landlords, which are accessible online.
For information on changes introduced by The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2010 from 6 April 2010 see Library note SN/SP/5414.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has also produced a general guide for local authorities: Dealing with rogue landlords.
Download the full report – Houses in multiple occupation ( PDF, 22 pages, 172.4 KB)
Note 2 – Houses in multiple occupation & the Use Classes Order – Commons Library Standard Note Published 30 December 2013 | Standard notes SN05414 Author: Wendy Wilson
Topic: Housing, Housing standards, Planning, Private rented housing
From 6 April 2010 changes implemented by The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2010 meant that, in certain circumstances, a landlord wishing to let out a property as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) may have needed to seek planning permission before doing so. The changes introduced by the Order were not retrospective and did not affect existing HMOs.
The 2010 Order was made in response to concerns around the impact of concentrations of HMOs in certain areas in terms of anti-social behaviour, crime, parking and pressure on facilities. Concentrations of student housing have been identified as a particular issue but the problems associated with high numbers of HMOs also arise in coastal towns because of the plentiful supply of rented accommodation in these areas.
Private landlords’ organisations argued that the need to seek planning permission could reduce the supply of private rented accommodation. Following the change of Government the new Housing
Minister, Grant Shapps, announced in June 2010 that further changes would be introduced to allow changes of use between family houses and small, shared houses to take place freely without the need for planning permission.
Local authorities would be able to use their existing direction making powers to restrict changes of use by requiring planning applications where they deem it necessary. The relevant statutory instruments, The Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (No 2) (England) Order 2010 (2010 No. 2134) and The Town and Country Planning (Compensation) (No. 3) (England) Regulations 2010 (2010 No. 2135) came into force on 1 October 2010.
This note provides background information on the 2010 Orders and explains their impact.
General information on Planning Use Classes can be found in Library note SN/SC/1301.
General information on authorities’ powers to set standards in HMOs within their areas can be found in Library note SN/SP/708.
Download the full report – Houses in multiple occupation & the Use Classes Order ( PDF, 11 pages, 109.3 KB)