Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

What is an HMO?

The definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property occupied by three or more people (including children) who form two or more households.

It includes shared houses, bedsits and some flats where the kitchen and/or bathrooms are shared. This includes houses rented by students.

A household may be:

  • A single person
  • A cohabiting couple
  • Several members of the same family, all related by blood or marriage

As an example, a house occupied by a brother, sister and one other unrelated occupant would form two households; three unrelated persons would form three households.

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

HMO planning applications

Planning permission will be required if you wish to change the use of a property from single to multiple occupation. For more information see Apply for planning permission

HMO Licences

The licensing scheme is designed to improve housing conditions and ensure the health and safety of tenants.

If you own or manage HMOs, the onus is on you to obtain a licence for the property. If you have three or more lodgers in your own home, you will also need to apply for a licence.

Certain conditions for the property must be met before a licence is granted. Details can be found on our Safety and standards page.

Check if your property requires a licence using the online form which can be found on the Criteria for HMO licensing page.

Unlicensed HMOs

We are continually trying to identify properties in the city that meet the criteria for licensing, but remain unlicensed.

The public register of all Houses in Multiple Occupation that have been licensed is attached below. Properties are only included on the register once the final licence certificates have been issued.

You can view them on our HMO licensing - public register (summary PDF) document.

If you have any information about HMOs that you believe may require a licence but do not appear on the register, contact the HMO Licensing Team via email at

Further information

Further information on HMOs is available in out Frequently Asked Questions document.

Consultation on a Licensing Scheme for HMOs

Southampton City Council is seeking views on proposals for the designation of an additional houses in multiple occupation licensing scheme covering the wards of Bevois, Bargate, Portswood and Swaythling. Now is your opportunity to have your say. Please visit our consultation page for more information and to complete a questionnaire to give us your views on the proposals. The deadline for submitting feedback is Tuesday 22 May 2018.