About Houses in Multiple Occupation

The council's aim is to ensure that all properties which are Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) are safe for the number of occupiers.

A HMO can be any building or part of a building used for living accommodation by more than two people who are not part of the same family, where they occupy the property as their only or main residence, where they share one or more basic amenities and they pay rent for their accommodation. The full definition is contained in section 254 to 260 of the Housing Act 2004.

In general terms can be any one of the following:

  • a shared house lived in by people who belong to more than one family sharing one or more basic amenities, such as a toilet, personal washing facilities and cooking facilities
  • a house in bedsits lived in by people who belong to more than one family sharing one or more basic amenities
  • an individual flat lived in by people who belong to more than one family sharing one or more basic amenities

To be of the same family, the occupants must be:

  • married to each other
  • live together as a husband and wife
  • live together in a same sex relationship, or
  • be related to each other, such as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or cousin

Details of where you can find HMOs in the borough

Check if you need planning permission

All new HMO will be subject to planning control in some areas of the borough. For more information please visit the planning page relating to the Article 4 Direction webpage for more information.

Smoke free legislation

The smoke free legislation only applies to the common parts of the HMO building if the common parts are:

  • open to the public, or
  • used as a place of work by more than one person (even if the persons who work there do so at different times, or only intermittently)

Common parts include entrance lobbies, stairwells, lifts, corridors plus any facilities/areas shared by the occupants of more than one household. For example, if the property is split into bedsits, the common parts would include any kitchens, bathrooms or living/dining areas that are shared by more than one household.

The wording 'open to the public' implies that there is open access to the public through an unlocked door. Therefore a block of flats with an open entrance or unlocked communal entrance door would be considered 'open to the public' and the smoke free legislation would apply. However, any residential property with a locked front door either controlled manually or via a door entry system would be considered private.

If the common parts of the building are not open to the public, the smoke free legislation will only apply if the common parts are used as a place of work by more than one person (including voluntary work). This could apply to workers including: cleaners, porters, security guards, who are specifically employed to work in the common parts of the residential property. Where there is only one such person employed then the provision of a second person on a temporary basis to cover a period of sickness absence or holiday might be discounted.

The question of whether the common parts are used as a place of work by more than one person will be a question of fact and degree. If entry to the common parts is irregular or ad-hoc (such as parcel deliveries, fast food deliveries, supermarket shopping deliveries, house removal firms and estate agents) it will be discounted as work.

The regulations also specifically exclude work that is carried out to maintain the structure or fabric of the dwelling and/or to install, maintain or remove any service provided to the dwelling for the benefit of persons living in it.

If the common parts are used as a place of work by more than one person, section 2(3) of the Health Act 2006 states that the smoke free legislation will apply to the parts of the property that are open to the public and/or used as a place of work by more than one person.

Fire precautions

If you live in a HMO, below is a list of precautions you need to consider to keep yourself safe.

  1. Make sure everyone knows the escape route from the property and how to call the fire service. Where possible, all residents should participate in fire drills, know the location of all fire fighting equipment in the house, and how to use it.
  2. The escape route usually includes the internal stairway down to the street. All residents must ensure the entrance door to their flat or rooms or other doors opening onto the stairway, are maintained self-closing, and the stairway is not obstructed in any way.
  3. Never leave children alone in the property, especially in rooms where heating or cooking appliances are in use. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach.
  4. Never fill a chip pan more than half full with oil or fat, and never leave it unattended with the heat turned on. If you have a chip pan fire, don’t move it and don’t throw water on it. Turn off the heat and, if safe to do so, smother the flames with a damp cloth, fire blanket or the chip pan lid. Leave it to cool for at least half an hour.
  5. Keep an eye on elderly residents. Make sure they take sensible fire precautions, especially with cigarettes and pipes. Remind them to follow the manufacturers’ instructions when using electric blankets.
  6. Don’t smoke in bed. This is a major cause of fires in the home. Make sure you have put out your last cigarette or pipe before you go to bed.
  7. Keep all portable heaters away from furniture and furnishings. Make sure nothing can fall on top of them, and that they cannot be knocked over.
  8. Do not keep highly combustible materials, such as petrol or paraffin, in your flat or room. Store them in a place approved by the local authority or fire service.
  9. Your landlord must have gas appliances, such as fires and other heaters, serviced at least once a year by a qualified person. Gas appliances need air to burn safely, therefore never block any air vents, and check nothing is obstructing outside grilles, flues or air bricks. The danger signals indicating a gas appliance is not working correctly are: stains, soot or discolouring around the gas fire, or at the top of a gas water heater; a yellow or orange flame on a gas fire or water heater, a strange smell when the gas appliance is on
  10. Routine precautions at bedtime should include: switching off all electrical appliances (except those designed to be on all the time) and removing the plugs carefully, checking for burning cigarettes or pipes, putting a guard on any open fire, and closing the doors of unoccupied rooms.

Additional information

You can download a copy of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's 2024 HMO Standards which apply to all HMOs within the borough below.

PDF document HMO Standards(PDF) [3 Mb]

For details of the legislation regarding the management of HMOs please read:

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions)(England) Regulations 2006.

Below is a guide for current and prospective private residential landlords in England letting to tenants on an assured shorthold tenancy.

PDF document How to let(PDF) [831 kb]

Contact details

Housing Standards Team

If you have an enquiry about housing standards, send a message to the Housing Standards team

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