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Private tenants

You can find out about your rights as a Private tenant and how we ensure you have a safe and healthy home.

Published on: 30 December 2020

Last updated: 2 June 2021

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)


From 30 August 2021, a broader range of HMOs will require licensing. Please check our HMO licensing pages for guidance on which properties this affects.

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or Flat in Multiple Occupation (FMO) is a property which is occupied by a least 3 people who are not from one household. 

HMOs include buildings where facilities are shared, but can also include buildings divided into self-contained flats.

A HMO with 5 or more people will normally require a licence issued by us and will require an inspection prior to the licensing being issued.

Landlords who fail to apply for a licence can be prosecuted or issued with a fixed penalty up to £30,000. A landlord is not allowed to evict tenants unless a licence or exemption is in place. Tenants may also be able to claim back up to 12 months rent through a rent repayment order if they are living in an unlicenced HMO. 

We have created an online rent repayment tool so you can quickly and easily see if you are owed a rent repayment order.

HMOs offer valuable accommodation in Westminster, but sometimes present a higher risk, particularly with regards to fire safety.

It is important therefore that enhanced measures are in place to address this risk. It is also important that there are enough amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and kitchen facilities.

Regulations place a continuous obligation on landlords to effectively maintain and manage HMOs (both licensable and non licensable). 

If you are concerned that the property you are renting does not hold a licence, or there is disrepair or management problems please make a privately rented housing enquiry online.


Guidance documents

We have produced guidance for landlords on the standards expected within HMOs:

Shared houses and flats standards PDF, 635.39 KB, 16 pages


Bedsit and studio standards PDF, 634.59 KB, 15 pages
Self contained flat standards PDF, 567.47 KB, 14 pages