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 HMOs 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 HMOs.

Licensing an HMO

The law changed on 1 October 2018.  Landlords need an HMO licence if the HMO is occupied by, or can be occupied by, 5 or more unrelated people no matter how many or how few storeys it has.

Owners and managers of HMOs are encouraged to apply to the Council for their licence early. Licences issued in advance for HMOs of less than three storeys will take effect from 1 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 licensed.

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.

HMO Register

You can view details of licensed HMOs in Elmbridge using our HMO Register.

Checking HMO standards

The standards we require in HMOs in Elmbridge are available to view. We carry out routine inspections of all known HMOs 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.

Download further information HMO - recent legislative changes or contact Private Sector Housing on 01372 474 624 or email

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