Reen Anderson Solicitors

What are Some of the HMO Legal Requirements in England?

property licenses

Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are subject to a range of legal requirements that must be met. Failure to comply can result in prosecution, fines and removal of licences and other documentation required to operate as an HMO landlord. The list below is not exhaustive and it is always recommended to seek specialist legal advice for any issues pertaining to an individual HMO property or portfolio of properties.



HMO landlords must hold the correct licence for the type and size of property they are renting out. Large HMOs, for example (properties housing five or more people who form more than one household), with some or all tenants sharing a toilet, bathroom or kitchen and at least one person paying rent will require a mandatory property licence. Smaller HMOs may require an additional property licence, as well as a selective property licence if rented privately in certain circumstances. Licences are granted by the local council and have application fees attached. They are normally valid for five years.


Room Sizes

In order for living conditions to meet a certain standard, a number of regulations apply to the state and size of accommodation provided in an HMO. For instance, legislation states that the floor area of a room that someone over ten years old sleeps in must not be less than 6.51 square metres. For two people over the age of ten, the smallest allowable size increases to 10.22 square metres. For children under ten, a child cannot sleep in a room that is less than 4.64 square metres. This is to protect tenants from being obliged to sleep in a space that is too small, which could lead to crowding issues, as well as problems with ventilation.


Gas and Electricity

Gas safety checks are due every year to ensure the safety of tenants and good working order of appliances, such as boilers, ovens etc. They must be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer, who will issue a Gas Safety Certificate if all is well. Local authorities can ask to see a Gas Safety Certificate at any time and will rescind the property licence if they are not satisfied. Electrical installations must be checked every five years, and there must be an uninterrupted gas and/or electricity supply.


Fire Safety

All residential properties are required to meet building requirements around fire safety and HMOs are certainly no exception. In fact, as they are considered to be more at risk of fires than single lets, they are subject to stricter regulations. Fire regulations vary from local council to local council, so it is best for an HMO landlord wishing to find out what applies to him or her specifically to contact their HMO Enforcement Officer at their local council. Areas covered will normally include fire doors and specific types of door handles, fire blankets and extinguishers, smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alarms and fire escapes, which must be accessible, free from obstruction and properly maintained.


Fit for Human Habitation

This covers a wide range of areas, from the management of water, drainage and waste to the cleaning and maintaining of furniture and fittings (where applicable). Other aspects that HMO landlord must attend to include building repair and stability, removal of damp, adequate natural light and ventilation, cooking facilities, waste water disposal, electrical plugs and sockets and sanitation. HMO tenants should check that these are all covered in their contracts. HMO landlords should work with specialist solicitor to make all necessary arrangements, have required paperwork in place and ensure that they are legally compliant in all areas and responsibilities around human habitation and safety before embarking upon a letting agreement.


Finances and Paperwork

Finally, HMO landlords wishing to let a property must ensure that they have the correct paperwork in place, including permissions from e.g. mortgage provider and other lenders, freeholder (in the case of leasehold properties), shared owners (e.g. housing association), insurance company or anyone who holds occupancy rights.


There will normally also be taxes due on rent received, which must be declared to HMRC in the most appropriate way for the landlord’s circumstances. Deposits from tenants must be secured in a Government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within30 days of receipt. There are also data protection regulations to be adhered to, following the introduction of the GDPR legislation in 2018 and ‘Right to Rent’ checks to ensure that prospective tenants have the legal right to reside in the UK.


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