Houses in Multiple Occupation ( HMO )

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are an important part of our housing stock, providing flexible accommodation for many smaller households. Sharing accommodation can bring greater risks, so regulating the management and property standards is important.

A property counts as an HMO if it is rented out by at least 3 people who are not from a single ‘household’ (for example a family), but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’. If there are 5 people or more living in the property, it counts as a large HMO and needs a licence.

In this section you can find out about the mandatory  HMO licensing scheme and how to apply; check whether a  HMO has a licence; find links to Planning and Council Tax information for HMO ; and find information about the standards that are required in all  HMO including those that do not need a licence.

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If you believe the property you live in is a HMO, or there is a HMO in your local neighbourhood complete the below online form. The form will take 5 minutes to complete.

 Report a suspected house of multiple occupation

To find out how we use your information see our privacy notice (opens in a new window).

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 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 are responsible for a HMO that needs a licence you can complete your HMO application online. You can use the online application to apply for a first-time licence or to renew an existing licence.

If you are unable to complete your application online, you may submit a paper application with the relevant fee and accompanying documents by post. It is your responsibility to ensure that the application reaches the Council; we recommend using a ‘signed-for’ postal service. We are unable to accept delivery by hand until further notice.

We will acknowledge receipt of applications within 5 working days. If you do not receive acknowledgement please contact us to make sure that your application has been received.

If you are applying for a first-time licence, 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.

If you are renewing a licence, you must submit your renewal application and fee before your existing licence expires. Follow the link above to complete your  HMO application online, and select ‘renewal’ as the type of application. If your licence has passed the expiry date or there is a change in licence holder, you must submit a full application for a new first-time licence. 

Any delays in submitting a complete application may lead to the HMO operating without a licence which could result in enforcement action. This could lead to a conviction and an unlimited fine, or a civil penalty of up to £30,000. Visit the Housing Enforcement Policy for more information. 

The licence cannot be transferred to another person or property, so if you buy a licensed  HMO you must apply for a first-time licence if you continue to operate the building as a HMO.

HMO Licence fees

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

Licences will be issued for a period of up to 5 years.

  • 5 - 6 units of accommodation = £944 (£755 for renewal)
  • 7 - 12 units of accommodation = £1,002 (£802 for renewal)
  • 13 - 20 units of accommodation = £1,084 (£848 for renewal)
  • 21 or more units of accommodation = £1,153 (£900 for renewal)

Advice visit/Aborted appointment = a charge of £110

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, 620KB).

The Government has issued guidance for landlords and tenants about property access and health and safety obligations in the context of Covid-19 restrictions.

Planning requirements for HMOs

If you are intending 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.

Article 4 Direction for HMOs in Crewe

Planning permission is not normally required to convert a dwelling into a  HMO provided that the property accommodates no more than six unrelated people. This is known as ‘permitted development’.

Local Planning Authorities can withdraw ‘permitted development rights’ through an Article 4 Direction. The effect of an Article 4 Direction is that planning permission is then needed for the development once the Direction is in force. 

Three Article 4 Directions have been made covering streets around Nantwich Road, Hungerford Road and West Street in Crewe and these will come into force on 1 November 2021. From this date onwards, the conversion of a dwelling into a  HMO in these areas will require planning permission. For more information including maps of the areas affected visit Article 4 Directions

Cheshire East Site Allocations and Development Policies Document

This is the second part of the Cheshire East Local Plan and includes draft policy HOU4: Houses in Multiple Occupation. The Revised Publication Draft Site Allocations and Development Policies Document was submitted to the Secretary of State of approval on 29 April 2021. For more information visit Site Allocations and Development Policies. 

  HMO Supplementary Planning Document

The HMO Supplementary Planning Document was adopted on 9 September 2021 and provides further guidance to all parties involved in the planning application process for HMO . Representations on the Final Draft Houses in Multiple Occupation Supplementary Planning Document were invited between the 26 April 2021 and 7 June 2021. The council is now considering the representations received before any decision is taken whether to adopt the document for use in decision-taking. For more information visit Supplementary Planning Documents

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 and Adaptations Team deals with all types of HMOs. Email us at if you need further information or guidance, or to request a property inspection.

Page last reviewed: 19 October 2023