A HMO is a House in Multiple Occupation, a building, or part of the building, occupied by three or more people, in two or more households and are sharing at least one basic amenity – such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. For example, if you have three unrelated people (students/professionals) living in a property that share a kitchen, then you are a HMO.

No, you do not require a licence but you must adhere to the same standards, fire safety requirements and management as licensable HMO’s.

You need to protect your tenants from fire and safety issues, the additional safety requirements include the following;

  • The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006
  • The National Fire Safety Guidance LACORS fire safety standards (2MB, PDF) determines the required fire fighting and detection equipment
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires all ‘responsible’ persons, i.e. landlords and managers, to undertake a fire risk assessment of HMO’s.
  • To adhere to local Coventry City Councils HMO regulations.

No, under Article 9, the responsible person will be required to assess the risk in respect of both the place and its activities. Under Article 10, they must implement such general fire safety measures as are reasonable and necessary to reduce risks that are found, and, by virtue of Articles 11 to 22, must then protect all persons using the premises and the immediate vicinity from fire risks that remain.

The person carrying out an assessment must be competent to do so. A competent person is to be regarded as a person with sufficient training, experience and knowledge of fire safety to enable them to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment properly.

Assessments that relate to endangering lives cannot be made by persons that do not have professional qualifications or those that do not deal with these rules on a daily basis. There will be almost no underpinning certainty or accountability by such persons if there is a fatal injury or death that results from advice given by a ‘none’ competent person (e.g advice from a builder/architect/designer).

The council now has new enforcement powers – fixed penalty notices.

Fixed Penalty Notices under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 came into force in April 2017. They are an alternative to prosecution for various private sector housing offences. The Council can also adopt a Civil Penalties Policy which incorporates a schedule of penalties for various offences.

The maximum penalty that can be levied is £30,000.

The process will involve the service of a ‘notice of intent’ to impose a financial penalty. A person served with a notice may make representations within 28 days. A decision will then be made in regard to whether to impose a penalty and the amount. If it decides to impose a penalty, the Council must issue a final notice requiring payment within 28 days. There is a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.

If you are found to be operating an illegal HMO, you could be:

  • Fined, prosecuted and even imprisoned
  • You will not be a ‘fit and proper’ person and therefore unable to manage your HMO property
  • You may not be able to serve a valid Section 21 or Section 8 eviction notices
  • Your insurance can become null and void 
  • Under the ‘relevant persons’ section, your mortgage lenders may be contacted and your mortgage could be revoked