Bristol aims to curb HMO growth in the city with new regulations that limit numbers where there are already at least 10% in a neighbourhood.

The council now won’t give planning permission to landlords looking to convert family homes into student housing in these areas, as it says an over-concentration of HMOs can create conflict between residents and students.

Many councillors complain the sector is damaging communities, impacting on the housing market, creating high rent and poor-quality accommodation.

Bristol has about 6,320 HMOs, with numbers growing in recent years; areas already found to exceed the new 10% threshold include Easton, Eastville, Bishopston, Ashley Down, Totterdown and St George West.


The new policy prevents homes being sandwiched between HMOs and sets higher standards for housing conditions, including room sizes, sound insulation and bin and bicycle storage.

The rules also mean it will turn down applications that create unreasonable levels of on-street parking, cause a detrimental impact by making alterations to buildings and structures, or where it would reduce the choice of homes in the area by changing the housing mix.

The council says its strategy will create more inclusive, balanced and sustainable communities.

Cabinet member for spatial design and city planning, councillor Nicola Beech (left), adds: “Concentrations of HMOs in neighbourhoods can lead to imbalanced and unsustainable communities.

“And they can damage the character of an area. Those harmful impacts are associated with high numbers of HMOs and affect communities’ overall health and wellbeing.”

Its consultation received 78 responses, with only five of these objecting to the plans.
Read more: Are HMOs the way forward?


  1. How does housing more people in a house lead to increased rent levels?
    Surely if each of these HMO residents was forced to rent their own flat, that would increase rental demand?

    The absolute nonsense that councils come up with in this country is ridiculous. Probably assisted by the fact that most of the country are economically illiterate.

    • It’s isn’t a binary question is it? Which is more profitable in the long term? There are quite a few factors to decide if a landlord lets out flats/ rooms particularly as room by room isn’t a passive investment
      The deeper narrative is that there is an element of social engineering taking place. All that will happen is more black market renting and sub standard housing which is the opposite of what the local authorities are trying to achieve

    • The landlord gets more rental income for that particular house, if it is an HMO.
      But that does not increase local rent levels in general.
      The opposite in fact.

  2. 4 or less tenants doesn’t require a HMO licence.
    Savvy LL will just have 4 tenants.
    Councils can’t stop 4 unrelated tenants occupying a property with no licensing required.

    Of course Additional Licensing might be required where it is in operation.

    To avoid all the problems associated with 5 unrelated occupants just have 4 occupants.

    It isn’t worth paying the extra for a 5 bed property.
    A 4 bed one will suffice to avoid Mandatory HMO Licensing.

    As far as I am aware Additional Licensing doesn’t require any adjustments at a property.
    It is just a tax basically

    • Three or more unrelated (or non sexual partners) occupiers creates an HMO.
      Smaller HMOs are becoming non viable, as you get all the additional costs and admin, without enough tenants to make it worth while.
      The best HMOs I’ve personally seen have been old pubs converted to large HMOs, with about 8 or more tenants.

  3. Additional Licensing applies in most areas of Bristol.. and where there is a lack of amenities (ie kitchen cupboards) or a shared room (ie lounge) is too small according to the minimum amenity standard, then works or adjustments will be necessary to accommodate for 3 sharers.


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