- Whether your property is already an HMO, or
- Whether by taking in lodgers you will create an HMO, and
- Whether, if your property is an HMO, you will need to get a license
1. Is your property already an HMO?
This may be the case if you are a tenant of private rented property. For example if you are sharing a property with people who you are not related to, e.g. in a student house.
Following on from this, if your home is in one of those HMOs where your landlord has had to obtain a license, he may not be able to let you to have a lodger. The reason being that most licenses limit the number of people allowed to live in the property. If there are already this number, your landlord will risk losing his license if he lets anyone else live there.
If this is your landlords reason for refusing permission, there is nothing that can be done (other than move house).
2. Will taking in a lodger create an HMO?
Under the Housing Act 2004, a property is classed as an HMO if there are three or more occupiers who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
A household is generally a family unit (including parents, grandparents, children (and step-children), grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins, plus half relatives and foster children). If therefore, you take in your cousin as a lodger, this will not count as a separate household. Similarly any ‘domestic staff’ for example an au pair or nanny.
As a live-in landlord, you are allowed two ‘non-family’ lodgers before your property can be classed as an HMO. So, if you take in three non-family lodgers your property will probably be an HMO. However, if you take in two uncles, your cousin and have a live-in nanny, your property will not be an HMO, even though there will be more people living in it!
Note however that this is only if you are an owner-occupier. If you are yourself a tenant, if taking in a (non-family member) lodger will bring the number of people in the property to over 2 – this could create an HMO.
The HMO Management regulations: One of the main consequences of running an HMO is that you need to comply with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 – whether or not you need to get a license. There is not time to discuss these in any detail here, but you can read them online >> here.
3. What about licensing?
Many people with lodgers do not realise that in some circumstances they may have to obtain a license from their local authority. This will be if:
- Your property is an HMO as discussed above, and
- (In Wales only) The property has three or more storeys, and
- There are four or more persons living at the property in addition to yourself and your family (including any family who are lodgers and any domestic staff)
To work out how many storeys there are, you need to include all actual storeys in the building including attics and basements if these have been converted to residential use or if they are used for business purposes. So if you have a standard two story house where the attic has been converted to a bedroom then this will count as a three story house. However, since October 2018 the storey’s requirement has no longer applied in England.
If you are not sure whether your house or flat will come within the definition, have a word with someone at your Local Authority. Generally, they will have a separate department which deals with HMOs and the licensing of HMOs.
Note that in some areas Local Authorities have introduced additional licensing requirements, so if you have three or more lodgers (who are not family) it might be a good idea to check with them. However, if you only have two non-family lodgers you will be safe.
If you find out that your property will need licensing, you will have to get the license before letting to your third non-family lodger. This means completing the relevant form and paying the license fee. The fee varies from local authority to local authority. In some places, it is under £100 but in others over £1,000. It will normally last for five years.
If you want to contact your Local Authority to ask about this, you will find contact details in my >> Local Authority Directory.
See also this post.