The definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is 'houses or flats which have been divided into separate units of accommodation and are occupied by persons who do not form a single household'. So, this includes shared housing where the residents are not living as a family.
In these types of dwellings rates of death by fire is far greater, up to six times greater for bedsits, than in family or singularly occupied dwellings. The risk of fire deaths dramatically increases the more storeys a building consists of. We generally regard all properties of three storeys and above as higher risk.
It is also essential to ensure there are adequate facilities in such properties, for example a sufficient number of toilets, showers etc and reasonable space standards so they are not overcrowded.
The Landlords and Tenants factsheet
(51K) contains further information including minimum standards, regulations and responsibilities.
If we receive notification of a HMO through a tenant complaint or housing survey we are duty bound to ensure that the property meets the current standards. We also carry out surveys to actively identify HMO properties and have a yearly inspection programme for such properties.
If you think you may own a HMO that does not meet the current standards we can provide advice on upgrading works. We may also be able to provide some grant assistance.
We will always try to resolve problems informally but do have powers to enforce safety legislation if required. This could include prohibiting all or some part of the property if significant hazards are identified.
Officers will provide a response within 5 working days unless deemed urgent due to apparent imminent risk when a response within 1 day will be provided.
Certain categories of HMO that are 3 storeys or more with 5 or more occupants require a licence.
Full details are contained in the Houses in Multiple Occupation Policy
Details of Fire Safety standards and space requirements can be found in the Fire Safety factsheet
Amenity Standards in Houses in Multiple Occupation
It is important to note that there are separate specific overcrowding standards that are due to be updated by the Government. However the minimum size for a bedroom to be let to an adult is 6.5 m2 (70 sq. feet) but in all cases rooms must be safe and fit for their purpose.
No two persons of the opposite sex, aged 11 or more, shall share a bedroom unless they are both adults who are married or co-habiting.
There must be at least one shower or bath and toilet and wash hand basin per 5 occupants, i.e. if a property has more than 5 residents, two sets of facilities will be required.
For further information and advice on Houses in Multiple Occupation you can contact the Private Sector Housing Team in the following ways:
Telephone : 01562 732928
Fax : 01562 732556
Email : Worcestershire Hub