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What are HMO’s & HHSRS?


House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

The Housing Act 2004 introduced obligations relating to Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) which became law in England on 6th April 2006 and Local Authorities started enforcement from 6th July 2006 (In Wales became law from 2nd July 2006 and was enforced from 1st January 2007). This introduced both the HMO Licensing and Management of HMO’s.


Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

The old ‘Fitness Standards for Human Habitation’ have been replaced by what is called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) that, in simple terms, is a broad based risk assessment of “hazards to human health” (e.g. damp, dangerous stairs, poor electrics etc). On HMO Licensing, this breaks down in to the following types:

•    Mandatory Licensing 5 or more people, forming 2 or more households, in a property of 3 or more stories.
•    Transitional Licensing Existing HMO schemes transferring to the new regulations, criteria can vary dependant on Local Council.
•    Additional Licensing Local Authority set HMO criteria and/or identify property in certain areas.
•    Non – Licensable HMO’s - Any property let to 3 or more people, forming 2 or more households, which falls short of the Local Authorities Licensing criteria.



Transitional Licensing

The majority of Local Authorities are initially only enforcing Mandatory Licensing, however there are some Local Authorities transferring an existing HMO Registration Scheme into ‘Transitional Licensing’. It is therefore prudent to check with the Local Authority to establish if they are running anything other than a Mandatory Scheme and what the current Licensing criteria would be.

The Local Authority will also risk asses each HMO property under the HHSRS rules to ascertain if there are any hazards or dangers to health that need to be removed or minimised.

The criteria for the Management Regulations can vary from one Local Authority to the next. So it is advisable that the Landlord understands what the specification is, and will need to bring the property up to the required HMO Management standards.

Non – Licensable HMO’s still need to comply with the Management of HMO Regulations. i.e the local authorities specification for HMO’s (i.e wired smoke detectors; 1/2 hour fire doors etc) and it is not allowed any ‘category 1 Hazards’ under HHSRS. Whilst we understand that these initially will not be inspected by the local authority, should any accident or complaint be referred to them, failure to meet the HMO Management standards then the owner could be subject to an improvement notice, fines, prosecution, or worst case a compulsory purchase order, dependant on the severity of the problem.

This briefing gives a flavour of very complex and complicated legislation. We are happy to assist any Landlord in the HMO Licensing process or advising Landlords of specific requirements for individual properties.

Further information can be found at: HMO Licensing:  HHSRS:  or email Humphriss & Ryde Lettings Department:

Are You Looking For a Local Letting Agent?

If you have a property to rent, whether it is a house, flat or apartment in Bromley, Orpington, Chislehurst, Petts Wood, Bickley, Keston or the surrounding areas, and are looking for a local letting agent who offers rental management services, please call our lettings team on 020 8315 7690.