Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

What is an HMO?

A property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if it is let to at least three unrelated tenants who form more than one household and who share a kitchen, bathroom, toilet or another room.

(Please note that planning services use a different definition for an HMO.)
All HMO's are subject to enforcement under the Housing Acts, Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and HMO Management Regulations which together set out the amenity and fire safety standards for HMO's.

Licensing an HMO

Currently, you need an HMO licence if your HMO is occupied by or can be occupied by five or more unrelated persons and the property has at least three storeys. 
From 1st October 2018, an HMO is licensable if it is occupied by or can be occupied by five or more unrelated people however many storeys it has.

Owners and Managers of HMO's are encouraged to apply to the Council for their licence early. Licenses issued in advance for HMO's of less than three storeys will take effect from 1st October 2018.

To apply for an HMO Licence you must complete an application form with all supporting documentation and pay the application fee of £600 for a five-year licence. A discount of £50 is available for members of a recognised landlord association (such as the Residential Landlords Association or the National Landlords Association) or a recognised landlord accreditation scheme. We will inspect the property and decide if it meets an acceptable standard and if it does, the property will be licenced.

Operating a licensable HMO without a licence or failing to comply with the conditions of an HMO licence is an offence; you could be prosecuted, handed a Civil Penalty of up to £30,000, a Rent Repayment Order or given an unlimited fine.

Checking HMO standards

The standards we require in HMO's in Elmbridge can be found here. We carry out routine inspections of all known HMO's in the Borough. If the management of and the conditions in the HMO are not up to the required standards, the landlord will be required to improve them.

Support for landlords

We offer free advice to landlords including a site visit to help you make sure that the building is safe, in good repair and has adequate means of detecting and escaping from fire.  Please contact Private Sector Housing on 01372 474 645 or

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