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Home / Housing / Private Housing / Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Legislation for Houses in Multiple Occupation


The Housing Act 2004 introduced a mandatory licensing scheme for high risk Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Councils also have the option to extend this to lower risk houses if particular problems exist, such as low demand or extreme antisocial behaviour. Bournemouth Borough Council does not intend to extend the scheme at present so if you rent out a property that does not fall under the Mandatory Scheme, there is nothing for you to do.


The Council has been operating a Registration Scheme for several years. This has been replaced by Licensing and properties that were already registered have been automatically transferred into the new scheme. If your property was registered, there is nothing for you to do and you will be sent a licence through the post with an explanatory guide in due course.


The properties covered by the Licensing Scheme are rented properties that have:

  • 3 or more storeys and: 
  • 5 or more people living there, as 2 or more households. There MUST also be:
  • shared amenities such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities.

 People living in the same house are only classed as a ‘household’ if they are:   

  • co-habiting couples
  • blood related families
  • other relationships such as foster families, carers and domestic staff

In addition to Licensing, the Housing Act 2004 is also widening the definition of ‘HMO’. There are a few exemptions, such as student halls of residents managed by the university, or buildings owned by public bodies, but in general, all rented accommodation occupied by 2 or more households will be an HMO. A ‘shared house’ will no longer be deemed a single household. Please see the Guide to Non-Licensable HMOs|.


Whilst you may not require a Licence, you will still need to comply with the Management Regulations| and have sufficient fire precautions and means of escape. More information will be available in due course. After the Licensing Scheme is up and running, we hope to visit as many of these smaller properties as possible, to help landlords understand and meet the requirements. If you require a licence you will need to comply with the Amenity Standards|.  


Read our new leaflet giving landlords advice about anti-social behaviour |


If you own or manage a property that is let in multiple occupation, we would be grateful if you would complete the PropertyInformation Form| for each property and return it to the address on the right. We will send you all the relevant information and if necessary an application pack.


Contacting the Healthy Homes Team

email icon imageE-mail:|


telephone icon imageTelephone: 01202 451083


An icon representing a personIn Person: you can come into the Town Hall in person at the Housing Reception Office at the rear of the Town Hall between 08.30am and 4.45pm

Related Information


Postal Address Customer Services Centre,
St Stephens Road, Bournemouth, Dorset
Telephone 01202 451451
Minicom 01202 454974
Email Enquiries
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