Houses in multiple occupation

Changes to the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) and licensing conditions – October 2018

Number of storeys

From 1 October 2018, mandatory licensing will no longer be limited to HMOs that are three or more storeys high, but will also include buildings with one or two storeys.

For mandatory licensing to apply, the HMO (or Flat in Multiple Occupation) must be occupied by five or more persons, from two or more separate households.

This change will mean that flats, maisonettes and 2 storey properties may require a licence if they are occupied by 5 or more people sharing. Flats situated in purpose built blocks consisting of 3 or more flats will not require a licence.

The changes take effect on 1 October 2018. Landlords of HMOs that fall under the new definition will be committing a criminal offence if they fail to apply for a licence or a temporary exemption by 1 October 2018.

Minimum room sizes

HMO minimum room sizes to come into force 1 October 2018

This applies to bedrooms in licensed properties occupied by persons aged 10 and over.

The minimum size for a single bedroom is 6.51²m

The minimum room size for a double bedroom is 10.22²m

In certain situations, it may be permissible for a child under 10 to occupy a bedroom no smaller than 4.64²m

Any part of the floor area of the room at which the ceiling height is less than 1.5m, is not to be taken into account when measuring the room size.

Where a breach is found to exist, the council may provide a time period not exceeding 18 months to rectify the situation.

Properties that are required to move from the Additional Licensing Scheme into the Mandatory Licensing Scheme

For properties currently licenced under the Additional Licensing Scheme, their existing licence will remain valid, and its conditions apply, until the date the licence expires. They will then be required to renew under the Mandatory Licensing Scheme and the new room size conditions applied at that time.

A property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if it's let as a main or only home:

  • to at least three tenants who form more than one family household
  • and the tenants share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet

With a much higher percentage of properties than the national average in the city, HMOs are a vital source of accommodation in Brighton & Hove.

Our HMO Licensing schemes aim to help ensure safe, well-managed private rented accommodation for our residents.

Following consultation in the summer, the introduction of two new licensing schemes for private rented housing in the city was agreed at the Housing & New Homes Committee on 15 November 2017.

A new designation for a citywide Additional Licensing Scheme for smaller Houses in Multiple Occupation has been made. An application will now be made to the Secretary of State for approval to proceed with a Selective Licensing Scheme of other private rented properties in 12 wards in the city.

General information about HMOs

If you’re a tenant of a HMO that should be licensed, your landlord has extra legal responsibilities. The extra rules are there to reduce the risk of fire and to make sure that people living in shared houses or flats have adequate facilities.

If your home has problems with the building or maintenance, please use our reporting repair problems in private sector housing form.

You can also find more information on our renting a home in the private sector pages.

If you’re experiencing problems with a HMO in your neighbourhood, follow the links below for more information on what you can do:

Map of HMOs in Brighton & Hove

Our map shows the properties currently recorded as houses in multiple occupation in the city.

HMOs and planning

Licensing a HMO does not grant any planning consent that might be required for the property to be used as a house in multiple occupation. Additional planning controls exist in Brighton & Hove meaning that full planning permission may be required. Please see our planning pre-application advice webpage on small houses in multiple occupation for more information.