Houses in multiple occupation

Find information about houses in multiple occupancy and the license required for landlords of a house in multiple occupation.

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property that is shared by 3 or more tenants who are not members of the same family.

These may include:

  • houses converted into self-contained flats, each occupied by a single household
  • shared and bedsit houses
  • shared flats
  • houses containing a mixture of flats in single occupation and bedsits
  • hostels and hotels
  • boarding houses

Licences for landlords

You must have a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all the following apply:

  • it’s rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
  • it’s at least 3 storeys high
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

The licence ensures that the property is managed correctly and meets safety standards.

A licence is valid for a maximum of 5 years.

Even if your property is smaller and rented to fewer people, you may still need a licence depending on the area. You may need to contact your local district council.

The Housing Act 2004 

All housing, including HMOs, is subject to the Housing Act 2004.

This is enforced by the local housing authority, which in most cases is the local council housing department.

Other pieces of fire safety legislation can also be applied to HMOs.

Fire safety in new and altered HMOs, flats and maisonettes is subject to local authority building regulations.

For more information email Fire.BusinessSupport@suffolk.gov.uk, or call 01473 260588.