House in Multiple Occupation (HIMO)

Do I own or manage a HMO?

Under the Housing Act 2004, if you let a property which is one of the following types, it is a House in Multiple Occupation:

  • An entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet (this includes shared houses)
  • A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities
  • A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households
  • A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies

In order to be a HMO the property must be used as the tenants’ only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges.

HMO definition – Housing Act 2004

The full definition for a HMO can be found in sections 254-260 of the Act.

Certain types of buildings will not be HMOs for the purpose of the Act, these include those:

  • Buildings, or parts of buildings, occupied by no more than two households each of which comprise a single person (i.e. two person flat shares)
  • Buildings occupied by a resident landlord with up to two tenants
  • Managed or owned by a public body (such as the police or the NHS) or an Local Housing Authority or a Registered Social Landlord
  • Where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the principal use of the building e.g. religious establishments, conference centres, etc
  • Student halls of residence, where the education establishment has signed up to an Approved Code of Practice
  • Buildings regulated otherwise than under the Act, such as care homes, bail hostels, etc and the description of which are specified in regulations
  • Buildings entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders


Certain types of HMO may require a licence in order to operate. Please see the dedicated licensing page for further details.


HMOs within Bolton must meet certain standards in relation to fire safety, amenities and room sizes. The property will also be subject to assessment under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, introduced by the Housing Act 2004.

Managers of HMOs must also comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

Housing Standards

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