Rules for managing HMOs

Duties of managers and occupiers of a house in multiple occupation (HMO), whether it is licensed or not, and possible sanctions.

This content applies to England

HMO management regulations

Regulations regarding the management of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) impose duties on managers and occupiers of HMOs (except converted blocks of flats) whether they licensed or not.[1]

It is an offence not to comply with the regulations, although there is a defence of reasonable excuse. The penalty on summary conviction, for each separate offence, is a fine. In considering a prosecution for a breach of the management regulations, a local authority should also consider whether to take action under Part 1 Housing Act 2004.

Also, a local authority can:

  • (on or after 6 April 2017) impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution[2]

  • (on or after 6 April 2018) apply to a First-tier Tribunal for a banning order where the landlord (or agent) has been convicted[3]

HMO managers' duties

The regulations impose duties on managers of HMOs to:[4]

  • provide contact details to each household and have them on display

  • ensure that all means of escape from fire are maintained and kept free from obstruction, all fire precautions are maintained and that steps are taken to protect occupants from injury

  • maintain water supply and drainage

  • ensure annual gas safety checks are carried out

  • not unreasonably interrupt gas or electricity supply

  • maintain in repair and keep clean all common parts and installations, and ensure common parts have adequate lighting

  • ensure each unit and furniture are clean at the start of each occupation and maintain the internal structure and installations in each letting

  • provide adequate waste storage facilities and ensure that there is appropriate collection of waste

For section 257 HMOs, the manager's duty only applies to parts of the HMO over which it is reasonable to expect the manager to have control. The manager's duty to maintain or keep in repair should be carried out to a reasonable standard, taking into consideration factors such as the age, character and prospective life of the house and its location.[5]

HMO occupiers' duties

Occupiers' duties include:[6]

  • not to do anything that hinders the manager from meeting their duties

  • allowing the manager to enter units at a reasonable time to carry out their duties

  • providing such information to the manager as may be reasonably required in order to meet their duties

  • taking reasonable care to avoid damage to anything which the manager is under a duty to supply, maintain or repair

  • storing and disposing of litter in accordance with the arrangements made by the manager

  • complying with reasonable instructions in respect of means of escape from fire and fire precautions

Management of student accommodation

There are approved codes of practice regarding the management of HMOs occupied by students (whether licensable or exempt).[7] The approved codes are The Student Accommodation Code published by Universities UK, and the National Code.

There are separate codes for student accommodation owned by educational establishments and properties not owned by an educational establishment. Adoption of a code by an establishment or landlord is voluntary.

Last updated: 23 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.234 Housing Act 2004.

  • [2]

    ss.234, 234(6) and 249A Housing Act 2004, as amended by s.126 and Sch.9 Housing and Planning Act 2016; para 6.5 HHSRS Enforcement Guidance, February 2006.

  • [3]

    reg 3 and Sch Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/216.

  • [4]

    regs 3-9 Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/372.

  • [5]

    reg 3 Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions)(England) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/1903.

  • [6]

    reg 10 Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/372.

  • [7]

    s.233 Housing Act 2004; Housing (Codes of Management Practice) (Student Accommodation) (England) Order 2019 SI 2019/884.