Houses in Multiple Occupation ( HMO )

The law on licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) has changed. 

If a HMO is occupied by 5 or more people who form two or more households, there should be a HMO licence in place.

This includes any HMO which is a building or converted flat. It also applies to purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied as a HMO.

If you believe the property you live in is a HMO, or there is a HMO in your local neighbourhood, please tell us about it on our HMO form. You can check whether a property is already licensed on our HMO register. Not all HMOs need a licence, but it is important we know about all HMOs so we can make sure they are being managed properly.

Apply for a HMO Licence

If you own and manage a HMO that needs a licence you can complete your HMO application online and find guidance at GOV.UK.

You will need to submit additional documents listed on the HMO Application Checklist (PDF, 196KB) to complete your application. Your application will not be complete without these documents.  

Any delays in submitting a complete application may lead to the HMO operating without a licence which could result in you receiving an unlimited fine. 

The licence cannot be transferred to another person or property, so if the owner sells the property, the new owner must apply for a licence if they continue to operate the building as a HMO.

HMO Licence fees

The fees and charges for mandatory licences for HMOs in Cheshire East reflect the full cost to the council of processing an application. This varies according to the size of the HMO.

First application for a HMO licence for a term of 1 year

  • up to 6 units of accommodation = £440
  • 7 - 12 units of accommodation = £485
  • 13 - 20 units of accommodation = £535
  • 21 or more units of accommodation = £580

Discount for valid complete first applications made at application stage = refund of £51

Renewal of an existing licence for up to 5 years

  • up to 6 units of accommodation = £655
  • 7 - 12 units of accommodation = £695
  • 13 - 20 units of accommodation = £735
  • 21 or more units of accommodation = £780 

Advice visit/Aborted appointment = a charge of £82

Management standards for HMOs

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006 apply to all HMOs and cover a number of items. They require that the properties are kept in a good state of repair and that all facilities are in good working order at all times. For more information, read a full copy of the Management Regulations.

Housing standards for HMOs

We will enforce rules around waste management and mandatory conditions regulating the size and use of rooms as sleeping accommodation in licensed HMOs from 1 October 2018.

The prescribed national minimum room sizes will be:

  • no room with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres (sq.m.) can be occupied as sleeping accommodation;
  • rooms with a floor area between 4.64 sq.m. and 6.51 sq.m. can only be occupied as sleeping accommodation by a person less than 10 years of age;
  • rooms with a floor area between 6.51 sq.m. and 10.21 sq.m. can be occupied as sleeping accommodation by a single adult or person aged over 10 years;
  • rooms of at least 10.22 sq.m. can be occupied as sleeping accommodation by two adults or persons over 10 years of age.

A room cannot be used as sleeping accommodation if it is below the minimum room size. It is not intended to be the normal standard. We will assess each room used for sleeping accommodation based on the layout, space and amenities in each HMO .

For information about fire safety requirements in all HMOs, please read the LACORS Fire Safety Guide available on our Fire Safety page.

For more information about the facilities and amenities expected in HMO s, read our Guidance for Landlords and Agents (PDF, 685KB).


Planning requirements for HMOs

If you are planning to change your property into a HMO, or make alterations to an existing HMO, you should check whether you need planning permission for any changes you are proposing with the Planning service.

Council Tax requirements for HMOs

The Council Tax definition for HMOs is different to the Housing Act 2004 definition and may affect your liability for Council Tax payments. See  Council Tax  web pages for more information.

Defining a House in Multiple Occupation

The Housing Act 2004 defines a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) as:

  • an entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet; or
  • a house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to 3 or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities; or 
  • a converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by 3 or more tenants who form two or more households; or
  • a building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations, and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.

To be a HMO, the property must be used as the tenants’ only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence.

Defining a household

The definition of a household is a person living alone, or members of the same family living together including:

  • couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or couples in a same-sex relationship)
  • relatives living together, including parents, grandparents, children (and step-children), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins
  • half-relatives will be treated as full relatives.
  • a foster child living with his foster parent is treated as living in the same household as his foster parent.
  • any domestic staff (e.g. au-pair or live-in nanny)are also included in the household if they are living rent-free in accommodation provided by the person for whom they are working.

Three friends sharing together are considered three households. If a couple are sharing with a third unrelated person that would consist of two households. If a family rents a property that is a single household. If that family had an au-pair to look after their children that person would be included in their household. Properties where only two single, unrelated people live are not HMOs.

Contact us

The Housing Standards & Adaptations Team deals with all types of HMOs. Please contact us if you need further information or guidance, or to request a property inspection.

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