General information on Houses in Multiple Occupation

Information about HMOs including housing standards, safety and applying for a licence

What is a House in Multiple Occupation - HMO?

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property which is occupied by three or more people forming two or more separate households, where basic amenities (e.g. toilet, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities) are shared.

Not all HMOs require a licence. However, a building, or part of a building will require a mandatory HMO licence if it is occupied by five or more persons, living in two or more separate households, and the property meets the standard test, the self-contained flat test, or the converted building test as depicted under section 254 of the Housing Act 2004.

An HMO could be, but is not limited to:

  • a house split into separate bedsits
  • a shared house or flat, where the sharers are not members of the same family
  • a hostel
  • a bed-and-breakfast hotel that is not just for holidays
  • shared accommodation for students

More information regarding the definition of an HMO can be found using the Government’s Private Renting Guidance.

Definition of a household

A household refers to a person living alone or persons who are all members of the same family that are related to one another as a couple (married or not and including same-sex couples), or related to one another as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin (stepchildren, half blood relatives and foster children are also included).

Mandatory licensing

Since October 2018, mandatory licensing is no longer limited to certain HMOs that are three or more storeys high. This now means that all properties that are less than three storeys and meet the above description are required to be licensed by the council.

Applying for a licence

If your property requires a licence, you can apply by using the link below. Customers will need to log in or sign up to My Services before applying.

Apply for a HMO licence

You can also renew or make variations to an existing licence.

Renew a HMO licence

Change an existing HMO licence

HMO licensing register

We have a duty to maintain and display a public register of all premises in the district licensed as an HMO.
Use our online search tool to find specific licensing registers

Amenity standards and minimum room sizes

Extra requirements must be undertaken in HMOs to protect the health and safety of occupants. The council has created a document which sets out the amenity standards, minimum room sizes and management standards for landlords, licence holders and managers operating licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in North Devon.

Please note the standards in the document are the minimum standards, and it is expected that properties will meet or exceed these requirements.

Please see our Amenity Standards (PDF 411KB) for further information.

Fire safety

The responsible person must ensure any duty imposed under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is complied with in respect to the premises.

The FSO applies to the:

  • common parts of HMOs (but not shared houses)
  • common parts of buildings containing flats and maisonettes
  • common parts of sheltered accommodation

The FSO places a duty on the responsible person (eg landlord or manager) to take fire precautions as far as reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of all relevant persons (eg all persons within the HMO).

A Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) is required to be carried out by the responsible person under the FSO. The risk assessment must pay particular attention to those most vulnerable (eg disabled persons, elderly persons, children etc.).

General fire precautions include, where necessary:

  • measures to reduce the risk of fire occurring
  • measures in relation to escape
  • measures to ensure the means of escape can be safely used at all times
  • measures to reduce the spread of fire
  • actions to be undertaken in the event of a fire
  • means of fire detection and warning

Landlords also have a duty to provide:

  • a smoke alarm on each storey of a property which contains a room being used as living accommodation
  • a carbon monoxide alarm in any room of the house being used as living accommodation and contains a fixed combustion appliance other than a gas cooker.

Further information regarding fire safety can be found on the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service website, and in the LACORS guidance.

Guidance on writing a fire risk assessment is available in the HM Government guide for sleeping accommodation

A template for a fire risk assessment is available on the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service website.

Contact us

Further information about private rented accommodation can also be found on our website.

If you have an enquiry about an HMO, or need to notify us of any changes applicable to your licence please contact us.

Further information

Information for landlords can be found on our website.

Information for tenants in HMOs can be found on our website.