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You are here:home > Living > Housing > Homeowners, landlords and tenants > landlords > Houses in Multiple Occupation

HMO Introduction

Southampton has around 100,000 homes of which just under a quarter are rented from private landlords. Within the private rented sector it has been estimated that there are 7,000 houses in multiple occupation (HMO). This type of accommodation is much valued by the council as it provides homes to many Southampton residents, however, also considers it very important to ensure that the HMOs in the city are safe and well managed. The council is committed to working with private landlords and landlord organisations as well as tenants and residents to achieve this. The Housing Act 2004 came into effect from 6 April 2006. It includes several elements that relate to houses in multiple occupation.

What is an HMO? The definition of an HMO is a property occupied by three or more people (including children) who form two or more households, and will include shared houses, bedsits, and some flats where there is some sharing of the kitchen and/or bathroom. This includes houses rented by students. There are some exemptions, please see the HMO licensing page for details.

A household may be (i) a single person or (ii) several members of the same family, all related by blood or marriage. For example: a house occupied by a brother, sister and one other unrelated occupant would form two households; three unrelated persons would form three households.

Other things to consider are:

  • The number of tenancy agreements is not relevant in determining if a house is an HMO.

  • Certain houses in multiple occupation may need to have planning permission. Please see the Planning pages (link below) for more details. All new properties being converted to small HMOs will require planning permission.

  • All rented properties are required to meet certain health and safety standards, see the House Conditions page for more details.

  • For additional standards relating to amenity levels and room sizes in HMOs, please visit the HMO Safety and Standards page.

Contact information

  • 023 8083 3006
  • Regulatory Services (Neighbourhoods), 5th Floor, One Guildhall Square, Southampton, SO14 7FP