Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Minimum standards for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

All Houses of Multiple Occupation must comply with the following legislation.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System applies to all accommodation, including HMOs.

Read the Housing Health and Safety Rating System guidelines

Management Regulations

Management regulations require that the property is both well maintained and managed.

There are two sets of management regulations.

Check whether your HMO needs a licence

Both sets of regulations state that a person managing a HMO must:

  • provide information to occupiers
  • implement safety measures, including fire safety provision
  • maintain the water supply and drainage
  • supply and maintain gas and electricity, including having it regularly inspected
  • maintain common areas defined in regulation 7(6), fixtures, fittings and appliances
  • maintain living accommodation
  • provide waste disposal facilities

Management regulations also impose duties on occupiers of an HMO to ensure that the person managing it can effectively carry out the duties imposed on them. For instance, the occupiers should allow access to the property for maintenance work.

Local Standards in Horsham District and Sussex

We have adopted the Guide for Standards in HMOs, which has been produced by the local authorities in Sussex.

Standards guidance for landlords

Fire safety standards

All HMOs are required to meet minimum fire safety standards. Our inspecting officer will risk assess your property and discuss appropriate control measures with you.

Landlords should make sure that there are appropriate means of escape and fire detection systems according to the type of property and the way it is used.

For example, a house containing individual bedsits, each with cooking facilities, will require a higher level of protection than a shared house with a single kitchen.

The structure of the premises must be sound, as a minimum, and in higher risk HMOs, additional work will be required.  The council will refer to The LACORS Fire Safety Guide and the Building Regulations Approved Documents.

The council will also expect fire detection systems to be present.  They should comply with standards set in BS 5839-6: 2019 Part 6:  Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings: Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises.

The person having control of an HMO is required to have fire precautions in place, to make sure the property is safe and to carry out fire risk assessments, under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The assessment must be carried out by a competent person. Further information on Fire Risk Assessment is available from West Sussex Fire and Rescue.

LACORS Fire Safety Regulations

Minimum room sizes in licensed HMOs

The following minimum room sizes apply to all bedrooms:

  • Single occupancy adult's bedroom: 6.51m2
  • Double occupancy adult's bedroom: 10.22m2
  • Bedroom for a child under 10: 4.64m2. The presence of children in an HMO raises safeguarding issues and these must also be considered

To comply with the new standards, a condition will be issued in new licences and licence renewals requiring adult single bedrooms that measure less than 6.51m2 to be either extended or not used as bedrooms.

Bedrooms that measure below these sizes must not be occupied on an individual let and will not be licensed.

To measure the bedroom size, an inspecting officer will check the size between the walls (not skirting boards) and multiply the measurement. Some spaces, like stairs leading to the loft room would not be counted as a usable space. Areas of a room where the ceiling measurers less than 1.5m high cannot be counted.

Overcrowding in HMOs

The number of people occupying an HMO must not exceed the maximum specified in the licence or in the case of a non-licensable HMO the maximum determined by the sizes of the rooms.

Planning and Building Controls

In addition to housing standards, HMOs must also meet Planning and Building Control standards.

New building work must comply with standards laid out under the Building Act and Approved Codes of Practice. Further advice can be obtained from our Building Control service.

Most properties that have been approved by the Planning Authority for domestic use will not need specific permission to operate as a HMO. However, any property occupied by seven or more people must apply for a Change of Use to operate as a HMO. Further advice is available from our Planning Development service.

If you are unsure whether your property complies, email for further advice.

Do not make any changes to your property without consulting with the Environmental Health Department, particularly if your property is a licensed HMO, as you will need approval.