Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) must meet certain standards with regard to adequate heating, lighting, ventilation, provision of water, toilet, bathroom and kitchen facilities for the number of tenants.
We have adopted the Essex approved code of practice for amenity standards in HMOs. If you manage or control a HMO, you have a duty to make sure it meets these standards, together with the provisions of management regulations – go to UK legislation: Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation. These apply to all HMOs, whether they are licensable or not.
Bedrooms in a HMO must be the right size. The minimum floor space is as follows:
|Maximum number of people
|Floor area of letting room with separate kitchen
|1 person unit
|8.5 square metres
|2 person unit
|12 square metres
Where other rooms - for example, shared lounges - are available in addition to a bedsit room, then the room sizes shown may be varied at the discretion of the inspecting officer.
HMOs are considered to have a higher risk of a fire than average properties, and must therefore have adequate means of escape and other fire precautions.
We take guidance from the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) publication, 'Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing', available from GOV.UK Fire safety law and guidance documents for business.
Landlords of HMOs should ask us for specific requirements in each case.
If you are an owner of an HMO or are thinking of converting your property to HMO use and would like an inspection of your property and further advice, send your request to us.
Landlords of HMOs are responsible for ensuring the electrical installation is safe and maintained.
Following a change in the law, from April 2021 all landlords must have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) before they can legally let their property to new tenants. If any Category 1 or Category 2 faults are identified, these must be remedied within 28 days. We may issue fines of up to £30,000 as a civil penalty notice for non-compliance.
For more on the 'Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020' and what they mean for private landlords and HMOs, go to GOV.UK: electrical safety standards in the private rented sector.
With HMOs there are specific legal duties concerning the maintenance and repair of:
- water supply
- gas and electricity supply
- common parts of the house hall, landings stairs and kitchen
- toilets, baths, hand basins
- windows and ventilation
- means of escape from fire, including other fire precautions
- outbuildings and yards in common use
There are additional duties as to the general safety of residents. These include making sure the name and address and telephone number of the person managing the house is displayed in a properly visible part of the house.
We inspect HMOs at regular intervals to check that standards are being met.