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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)


What is an HMO?

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a building, or part of a building (e.g. a flat) which is occupied by more than one household and in which more than one household shares an amenity such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities.

HMOs include:

  • shared houses
  • bedsits, where occupiers have their own bedroom and share one or more basic amenities (bathroom, toilet, cooking facilities)
  • bed & breakfast establishments and hostels that provide accommodation for persons with no other permanent place of residence

Please read the HMO Licensing Scope and Schemes (PDF) [36KB] (opens in new tab) for full details.

A property that is classed as an HMO does not necessarily need licensing, but is still an HMO.

Management Regulations - A Landlords Guide

These regulations (PDF) [19KB] (opens in new tab) apply to all HMOs, imposing duties in the main on managers but with some requirements also on residents to ensure that good conditions are maintained.

More Information

For more details relating to HMOs, licensing and access to Landlord Manual go to;

The West of England Partnership Information for Landlords (opens in new tab)

The West of England Partnership Landlord Manual 3rd Edition (opens in new tab)


The Council is responsible for enforcing HMO standards (PDF) [333KB] (opens in new tab) , and uses the  Housing Health and Safety Rating System to assess the risk to occupiers.

HMOs can sometimes be poorly managed and in poor physical condition. Sharing accommodation, such as bathrooms, toilets, kitchens, hallways, stairs and landings can lead to problems associated with:

  • inadequate toilet and personal washing facilities
  • inadequate food preparation facilities
  • overcrowding
  • inadequate fire safety

 If you live in an HMO and feel that there are any unreasonable hazards which your private landlord is not dealing with, please report it to the Housing Renewal team on 01237 428700 or email

Fire Precautions

This document (PDF) [173KB] (opens in new tab) contains the HMO Fire Precautions. 

It is a general guide to explain and clarify the importance of fire precautions in HMOs.

HMO Licences

With effect from 1st October 2018, 'The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018', replaces 'The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006' (S.I. 2006/371). 

Its effect is that mandatory licensing will apply to HMOs that are below three storeys (as well as to those of three or more storeys) where the property:

  • is occupied by 5 or more persons; and
  • is occupied by persons living in two or more separate households; and
  • who share an amenity such as a kitchen, toilet, bathroom or lounge

Charges for licences are listed in the Housing Section of the current Fees and Charges document.

HMO Licensing Requirements (PDF) [21KB] (opens in new tab)


To apply, you will need to:

Apply now
on the GOV.UK website

If you don't want to apply online, you can download an application form (PDF) [231KB] (opens in new tab)  to complete, and send it back to us.

(If you require a copy of this application form in Word format please contact the Housing Renewal team on 01237 428700 or email

HMO Register

The Council has a duty to maintain and display a public register of Licensed houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).  This is required under the Housing Act 2004 Part II.  The register shows all HMOs in Torridge that are licensed with the Council.

HMO Public Register (PDF) [228KB] (opens in new tab)

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