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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Guide to Registering Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

It is recognised that HMOs are a necessary part of the housing stock and must therefore be properly regulated to ensure decent and safe accommodation is available for all.

Registration is intended to ensure HMOs are not over occupied and minimum standards are maintained. Landlords can be held accountable when they are not and formal action could be taken.


The legislation sits side by side with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Fire Precautions (Houses in Multiple Occupancy & Flats) Regulations 2016, which came into force on the 1 January 2017.

The purpose of this guidance is to explain the requirements of this legislation and how it may affect you if you own, manage and/or live in a HMO. Links to essential guidance on the registration process from all Departments involved in the process are also provided within the below Registration process flow diagram.

This guidance will help you to identify steps you will need to undertake to meet the requirements of the relevant legislation.[1] 

What is a HMO?

HMOs are defined by Regulation 6 of the HMO Definition Order. 

Subject to certain exemptions, a HMO is a house occupied by more than 6 people (as their only or main residence) who form more than one ‘household’ and share basic amenities such as toilets, kitchens, living rooms bath/shower rooms. 

The meaning of household and family is defined by Regulations 4 and 5  of the Definition Order respectively.

The definitions of Family and household can be open to interpretation. If you are unclear advice can be gained by contacting the Environmental Health team.

Properties that are exempt from the Regulations

Premises that are NOT considered to be HMOs include:

  • properties occupied by persons in the same family
  • properties occupied by 6 or fewer persons where the building has no more than 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms
  • registered tourist premises used solely for tourism, prisons, adult and children’s care homes
  • premises provided by a charity for homeless persons,
  • Educational establishments. 

If you are unsure if you fall into any of these categories contact Environmental Health for assistance.


Environmental Health Unit

Regulation Directorate

Department of Environment Food & Agriculture

Thie Slieau Whallian

Foxdale Road

St. John’s


Telephone:+44 1624 685894

Email:Send Email

Send an email to the Environment, Safety and Health Directorate. 

 This guidance does not supersede or alter the requirements of the legislation quoted and does not form definitive legal advice. In any circumstance where the legislation differs from the guidance provided, the legislation is the definitive version.


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