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Houses in Multiple Occupation

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) are considered to be high-risk accommodation due to their type of occupation and the risk of fire. They are often let to low income and vulnerable tenants and can have poor standards of repair, amenity and management.

Defined under sections 254 and 257 of the Housing Act 2004, an HMO can be a building or part of a building if it is:

  • occupied by persons who form more than one household, and where those persons share (or lack) one or more basic amenities, such as a WC, personal washing and cooking facilities; or
  • a converted building containing one or more units of accommodation that do not consist entirely of self-contained flats. (There is no requirements that the occupiers share facilities); or
  • a converted building consisting entirely of self-contained flats, where the building work undertaken in connection with the conversion did not comply with the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies.

The HMO must be occupied by more than one household:

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

Under the Housing Act 2004, a household comprises:

  • a single person; or
  • Co-habiting couples (whether or not of the opposite sex); or
  • a family (including foster children and children being cared for) and current domestic employees

The Environmental Protection and Housing Section of the Public Health Department has identified a number of properties within the Borough which come under the definition of a HMO. The Section holds a database of these premises which are inspected on a risk based programme to ensure they meet the standards laid down under the Housing Acts and are safe to live in.

In circumstances where a HMO does not meet the appropriate standards, the Borough Council will seek to:

  • serve legal notice(s) requiring repairs, improvements or fire precautions
  • serve a legal notice to reduce the number of occupants
  • serve a legal notice to improve the standards of management

The standards which must be met are set out in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Approved Standards for HMOs.



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