Houses in multiple occupation

HMO licence and standards

COVID-19 guidance for landlords and tenants

During the current pandemic it will be challenging for landlords or property managers to carry out routine management and repair to rental properties. Many of those who live in this accommodation may also struggle to make rent payments.

The Government has recently published non-statutory guidance for both landlords and tenants which provides key information about:

  • possession proceedings that now require at least 3 months’ notice
  • the suspension of current housing possession cases in courts
  • property access and safety

It is paramount that landlords or property managers make themselves familiar with this guidance to ensure that properties continue to be well managed so that tenants can live in safe and suitable accommodation.

COVID-19 and renting guidance at GOV.UK

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property which houses three or more people who form more than one household, and where tenants share basic facilities like a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

If the HMO occupies five or more people from more than one household, the property requires a licence.

HMO standards

All HMOs are subject to management regulations that govern whether or not they are managed properly.

Our guide to the management regulations can be viewed below.

Central and local government also set guidelines to maintain living standards. These describe the minimum requirements for space, amenities and fire safety for different types of HMOs:

All HMOs must comply with management regulations and living standards guidelines even if they do not require a licence. We regularly inspect all the HMOs to ensure they meet management regulations and living standards.


It is a criminal offence not to:

  • comply with standards
  • manage an HMO properly
  • have a licence where one is required
  • comply with the conditions of the licence

The person in control of the HMO and its manager (if this is a different person) may face penalties for committing these offences. They may have to repay 12 months’ rent, pay an unlimited fine or pay a civil penalty of up to £30,000 for each offence.

They could also be banned from renting out properties and their name may appear on a national database of rogue landlords.

Help us to improve this website

Use this form to provide feedback on this webpage. Don't use it to contact us about a service or make a complaint. We will not reply, even if you include personal details such as your name and address. If you want us to reply, you should contact us in a different way.

What is your feedback for this webpage?

Give feedback about this page