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Navigating property law isn’t always easy, and HMOs are no exception. Even establishing what constitutes a ‘house in multiple occupation’ can be difficult, as different local councils tend to apply their own rules.

In particular, there are a number of circumstances when a property can be exempt from requiring an HMO licence or even from being classified as an HMO at all. Knowing this in advance can save you both time and money, as well as the administrative bother of having to constantly update your licence every five years.

In order to find out whether your property is technically an HMO or if it requires a licence, it is a great idea to speak to a local estate agent. They should have plenty of experience in navigating local property law, though your best assurance of getting a definitive answer will be to contact your local council.

Are there any exemptions for HMOs?

A ‘HMO’ is usually defined as a property with three or more people renting it who are not part of the same ‘household’ (family). However, things are not always quite this simple, firstly because not all HMOs require a ‘HMO licence’ and secondly because certain properties which would otherwise qualify as HMOs can sometimes be exempt.

Some of the most common HMO exemptions include:

  • An HMO occupied by no more than two people, in addition to the owner(s) or members of their family/families
  • An HMO occupied by persons who comprise no more than two families
  • Large properties with shared facilities rented to a single family
  • A property with two unrelated people sharing
  • Hostels or hotels for vulnerable individuals
  • Properties managed by local authorities