Isle of Wight Council

Housing Enforcement

Houses of Multiple Occupation


Service Update: COVID-19 guidance for Hostel or day centre providers of services for people experiencing rough sleeping

View the latest government guidance - guidance for hostel or day centres for people rough sleeping .

COVID-19 guidance for HMO landlords

Please see our information sheet - Guidance for HMO Landlords relating to your responsibilities,

Please use our informative A4 poster  in your property.

All let residential properties are subject to the Housing Health and Safety Rating system, for further information please view the web page entitled ‘Landlords Responsibilities’.

Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) are no exception, but given the nature of the property and the higher potential risks to the occupants, there are additional guidelines that must be taken into account.

These guidelines are:

  • Space guidelines.
  • Amenities.
  • Management Regulations.

There is also a useful information for landlords and managers of HMO's on the GOV.UK website - section renting out your property

For general COVID-19 guidance please see the latest government guidance posted on the GOV.UK website.

Types of HMO

There are a number of types of HMO, but they can be broken down into three forms of HMO:


A HMO is a property which is occupied by five or more people forming two or more households, where facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom or WC are shared. It includes bedsits, shared houses and some self-contained flats. For more information relating to Licensable HMO’s, please see the Licensable HMO tab.

Non Licensable

A house in multiple occupation is where there are four or less occupants forming two or more households, where facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom or WC are shared. This includes bedsits, shared houses and some self-contained flats.

This type of HMO has guidelines relating to:

Buildings converted into Self-contained flats (Section 257 HMO’s)

A building (or part of) that has been converted into self-contained flats, but where the conversion did not meet the Building Regulations 1991 at the time of conversion, and still does not, and where the flats are less than 2/3rd’s owner-occupied.

This type of HMO has guidelines relating to:

Exemptions and Special cases

Number of persons – If one or two people live together (whether related or not) this in not an HMO. The threshold for creating an HMO is three or more people. Children are counted as equal to adults when determining whether a property is an HMO.

Single Household – A household may be: (i) a single person; or (ii) several members of the same family.

Same family means all related by blood (up to first cousin distance) or marriage (or equivalent co-habiting arrangement; relationship of half-blood is treated as whole blood; stepchildren are treated as own children; foster children are treated as own children.

Example – you rent a flat with your friend (this is two people in two households – not an HMO); you rent a house with your partner and your partners brother this is three people in one household – not an HMO); you rent a house with your partner and a friend (this is three people in two households – an HMO).

Resident (live in) Landlords – A resident landlord (owner) and family may share a house with one or two unrelated lodgers without the need for an HMO licence. A third lodger means the house is an HMO and it must be licenced.

Domestic employees – if you have someone living with you (and your family) who does domestic work and does not pay rent, they (and their family) are considered part of your household. Domestic employees include: Au pair, Nanny, Nurse, Carer, Governess, Servant (including maid, cook or cleaner), Chauffer, Gardener, Secretary and Personal Assistant.

Live-in adult carers – A professional carer may live with up to three adult service users as a single household.

Foster families – A person living with their foster family are considered a single household.

Migrants, seasonal workers and asylum seekers – A migrant worker, seasonal worker or asylum seeker occupies a property as their only or main residence if they meet the definitions stipulated in Regulation 5 of the Licencing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (miscellaneous Provisions)(England) Regulations 2006.

Buildings which are not HMOs – The following types of building are not HMO’s:

Buildings where the person managing or having control is: The Local Housing Authority; A Registered Social Landlord; The Police; The Fire and Rescue Authority; The National Health Service.

Buildings regulated by other Acts – Any building whose occupation is specifically regulated by another Act of Parliament is not classified as an HMO. For example, boarding houses used exclusively by boarding schools which are regulated under the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Care Standards Act 2000 and the Education Act 2011. These buildings must be managed in accordance with the Department for Educations ‘Boarding Schools: National Minimum Standards’.

Religious buildings – Any building (excluding Section 257 HMOs, which still applies) which is occupied principally for the purposes of a religious community whose principal occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering.

Further Information

Electrical Safety for Tenants information can be found on Electrical safety first website.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) Operating Guidance can be viewed on the GOV.UK website - section HHSRS guidance .

Sleeping accommodation fire risk assessment guidance can be found on the  GOV.UK website - section Fire safety risk assessment: sleeping accommodation .

Local Government Association (LGA) Fire Safety guidance for in purpose built blocks of flats can be viewed on the Local Government Association website.