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What is a house in multiple occupation (HMO)?

​Find out what an HMO is and which ones need a licence.

From 1 October 2018, all HMOs with five or more occupants must have a licence.

What is an HMO?

In most cases, an HMO is a house or flat where:

  • two or more households live as their main or only residence, and

  • some or all of these households share basic facilities such as a kitchen, toilet or bathroom.

Other types of HMO:

  • converted buildings that include non-self-contained flats

  • buildings with self-contained flats that meet certain criteria

  • other buildings where basic facilities are missing.

Check which types of HMOs in the borough need to be licensed.

What is meant by ‘household’?

A household is a single person, or family members living together. This includes people who are married or living together as a couple. It also includes close relatives and foster children living with foster parents.

For more information about licensing read the guide by Communities and Local Government.

Which buildings are exempt from the HMO definition?

Buildings exempt from the HMO definition include those occupied by:

  • the resident landlord and a maximum of two other people who are not part of the landlord's household
  • a maximum of two people.

Which HMOs need a licence?

Only properties with five or more occupants, or those situated above or below a commercial premise, are licensable in the borough of Lewisham. 

All HMOs in England, whether licensable or not, must abide by the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. All HMOs in our borough must meet our standards for licensable HMOs.



Private Sector Housing Agency

Third Floor, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London, SE6 4RU
Telephone: 020 8314 6420
Email: pshe@lewisham.gov.uk