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Houses in multiple occupation

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is defined as a building, or part of a building which:

  • more than 1 household lives in and shares an amenity, such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities.
  • is a converted building where more than 1 household lives and does not entirely comprise of self-contained flats (whether or not there is also a sharing or lack of amenities)
  • comprises entirely of converted self-contained flats and the standard of conversion does not meet, at a minimum, that required by the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies, (known as Section 257 HMO's).

And is 'occupied' by more than 1 household:

  • as their only or main residence
  • as a refuge by persons escaping domestic violence
  • during term time by students
  • for some other purpose that is prescribed in regulations.

And the households comprise of:

  • families (including single persons and co-habiting couples (whether or not of the opposite sex)
  • any other relationship that may be prescribed by regulations, such as domestic staff or fostering or carer arrangements.

If your property is an HMO, you may need a licence to rent it out. A separate licence is required for each property. You must also reapply if you licence has expired.

You should apply even if you are unsure as you may be fined if you do not have a reasonable excuse.


Mandatory HMO licence

It is a legal requirement that a landlord must have a licence for a privately rented HMO if the property being rented out:

  • is occupied by 5 people or more.
  • those people form 2 or more households.
  • tenants share some amenities like kitchen, bathroom, or laundry.

Smaller HMO's (those occupied by 3 or 4 persons in 2 or more households) do not require a licence.

An HMO licence will be granted by us and is different from planning permission and building control approval which may also be required.

In October 2018 the law regarding Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's) is changing, click to see the most recent Government Legislation governing HMO's to view details of the changes.

A House in Multiple Occupation is a property which contains more than one household, e.g. bedsits, a typical 'student house', other properties also fall into this category.

The law requires all HMO's which have 5 or more people living in them to hold a licence issued by the Council.

Landlords must apply for a license in plenty of time as operating a licensable HMO without a license is an offense and they could face an unlimited fine.

The licenses are valid for a period of 5 years.

HMO application form (PDF) [233KB]

Submit completed application form here

One received the application forms will be processed and an officer will arrange to visit the property to undertake an inspection.

For more information please phone Environmental Health on 01772 62 5340 or e-mail

If you are aware of any HMO's that you think are not licensed and need to be please contact the department in confidence.

For information, South Ribble Borough Council has not designated any part of its district as subject to selective licensing of residential accommodation.

Also, there is no Planning Article 4 Direction in place in relation to HMO's.

Houses in Multiple Occupation Register (PDF) [53KB]

Further Housing information

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