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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

We recognise the contribution made to local housing by private landlords and wants to work with them to make sure their properties are adequate, safe and meet legal requirements.

Houses occupied by different households are called houses in multiple occupation (HMO) and are of particular concern because of the higher risks some of them pose to occupiers.

HMO definition

A HMO is a premises occupied as a main residence by more than one single household and when one of the households shares or lacks a basic amenity ie toilet, bath/shower and wash hand basin, or cooking facilities.

A single household is defined as people:

  • who are all members of the same family (ie parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousins.
  • people married or living together (including single sex relationships)
  • a couple living with a someone related to one member of that couple
  • a household includes foster children or domestic employees (nannies, maids, etc)
  • a person receiving care and their carer.

For a more detailed definition, refer to Section 258 of the Housing Act 2004.

Main residence

A main residence can be:

  • students in full time education
  • refuges run by voluntary organisations for persons suffering from physical violence or mental abuse
  • migrant and seasonal workers living away from home
  • asylum seekers.

For example:

Situation Number of households
Three individual persons living in three separate bedsits Three households
A couple sharing with a third person Two households
A family of two adults and two children renting a property One household
An au pair living with a family One household

HMOs include:

  • bedsits
  • studios
  • houses partly converted into self-contained flats
  • hostels
  • accommodation above shops
  • shared houses and flats

HMO inspection

HMOs are regularly inspected and if conditions in the properties are not up to our standards,  enforcement action may be taken which could result in a penalty.

HMO Licensing in Barnet

Not all HMOs in Barnet require licenses. In Barnet there are two types of HMO licence, a Mandatory Licence and from the 5 July 2016, an Additional HMO Licence.

If you are not sure if a property in Barnet requires a licence or not, you can get a better indication by checking here.

A list of the HMOs with licenses can be accessed on the Open Barnet Website 

There are certain standards which HMOs must be maintained at. If these are not met, the Environmental Health Team may take enforcement action.

If you know of a HMO which is licensable but has not been licensed, or does not meet licensing conditions you can report it by ringing 020 8359 5355 or by emailing the property address, and any further details to hmos@barnet.gov.uk.

It is an offence to not licence a HMO which is licensable. If you are living in an unlicensed HMO you should inform the Private Sector Housing team.

Landlords of unlicensed HMOs which should be licensed may face penalties and Rent Repayment Orders where they could be ordered to pay back 12 months rent or housing benefit payments.

Problems in your HMO

Your landlord should maintain your HMO in line with Barnet Council's HMO standards and other minimum conditions laid out in law. 

If you have a problem in your property first inform the landlord giving them a chance to put the situation right. If this doesnt help you, you can call the Private Sector Housing Team who may be able to help.



  • Private Sector Housing Team
  • Environmental Health
    Barnet House, 1255 High Road,
    Whetstone, London N20 0EJ
  • Tel: 020 8359 5355
  • Email: housingconditions@barnet.gov.uk

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