What is a HMO?

Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) form a significant part of the rented housing sector in Peterborough. A HMO can vary from a bed-sit where each letting usually has its own kitchen but a shared bathroom, to room-let type lettings where tenants rent a room but kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared.

The Housing Act 2004 defines what is and what is not a HMO, the building or any part of it must meet the criteria of one of the three tests described below or two other conditions.

The standard test

  • The building consists of one or more units of living accommodation not consisting of a self-contained flat
  • The occupants do not form a single household
  • It is the only or main residence of the occupiers
  • The only use of the accommodation is living accommodation
  • Rent or ‘service in kind’ is payable by at least one occupier
  • Two or more of the households share at least one of the basic amenities

The self-contained flat test

The accommodation is a self-contained flat and, apart from the first one, all other points from the standard test apply. 

The converted building test

  • It is a converted building, (its former use is not specified, but at least part of the building must be converted to living   accommodation)
  • It contains one or more units of living accommodation not consisting of a self-contained flat (but may also contain self-  contained flats)
  • The occupants do not form a single household
  • It is the only or main residence of the occupiers
  • The only use of the accommodation is living accommodation
  • Rent or ‘service in kind’ is payable by at least one occupier

The building must pass one of the three tests, the occupation of the living accommodation must constitute a significant part of that accommodation. It is a converted block of flats to which section 257 (of the act) applies. The building must be converted into, and consist of, self-contained flats.

Where the local housing authority is satisfied that the building is a HMO, it can serve a notice declaring the building (or part) to be an HMO.

The building was converted before 1992 and work did not comply with the appropriate building standards, and still does not comply with them.

Less than 2/3 of the self contained flats are owner occupied (this includes leases of more than 21 years).

Definitions 

The following definitions apply:

Persons not forming a single household

Persons are not considered to form a single household unless they are all members of the same family or the main occupiers employ others in specific jobs:

Au Pair Carer Chauffeur Nanny
Governess Gardner Nurse Maid
Secretary or PA Cook Cleaner Butler

Only or main residence

  • A person’s residence while they are undertaking a full time course of further or higher education
  • A refuge
  • A migrant or seasonal worker, where the accommodation forms part of the ‘contract’ whilst employed in the UK, and the building is provided by the employer of agent. Rent or other charges are not considered
  • An asylum seeker or dependant who has been provided with accommodation under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1999 and is funded under the National Asylum Support Service

Buildings that are not HMOs

A building managed by:

  • a local housing authority
  • a Registered Social Landlord
  • a Police Authority
  • a Fire and Rescue Authority
  • a Health Service Body 

Buildings regulated by the following Acts:

  • Children’s Act 1989
  • Prison Act 1952
  • Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
  • The Secure Training Centre Rules 1998
  • The Prison Rules 1999
  • The Young Offender Institute Rules 2000
  • The Detention Centre Rules 2001
  • The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 (Approved Premises) Regulations 2001
  • The Care Homes Regulations 2001
  • The Children’s Homes Regulations 2001
  • The Residential Family Centres Regulations 2002

Buildings occupied by the owners:

  • Either freehold, or leasehold for a term of at least 21 years
  • Members of the owner’s household
  • No more than 2 persons other than the owner (and household) 

Buildings managed by educational establishments and occupied by their students

Buildings occupied by religious communities whose principal occupation is prayer, contemplation education or the relief of suffering.

Any building occupied only by two persons forming two households.

Basic amenities

  • A toilet
  • Personal washing facilities
  • Cooking facilities