Safety inspection

Information on the definition of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and what legislation is applicable to such properties.

In section 254 of The Housing Act 2004, a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is defined as a property that is occupied by at least three people, who form two or more households, who share one or more basic amenities such as a kitchen, toilet or bathroom.  Nationally, the general view is that HMOs contain some of the worst physical housing conditions and practices of housing management. It is also accepted that HMOs provide an affordable option for housing, which is in many circumstances is the only option for people on low incomes.

A property is classed as an HMO if:

  • A house or flat which is let to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
  • Bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation which are let to 3 or more tenants, who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities.
  • Self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the Building Regulations 1991 and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies (Section 257 HMO).

All HMOs are classed as presenting a high risk of fire hazards and are subjet to more stringent fire precautions than single housing tenancies.

Local Authority inspection of HMOs

Local authorities carry out  Health and Safety  inspections on HMOs to ensure that they are safe and fit  and comply with fire and amenity  standards.   

These inspections are undertaken on a risk based inspection frequency and there is no charge applied to the tenants or landlord for such inspections.

In cases of were enforcement action is taken charges may be applied for officer time including that of any inspection carried out. 

Management Regulations

HMOs are subject to Management Regulations under: 

  • Statutory instrument no.372, 2006 for HMOs, and
  • Statutory Instruments no.1903, 2007 for  Section 257 HMOs 

The Management Regulations set duties for the tenant and managers to promote maintenance of:   

  • Water supply and drainage
  • Communal parts of the house
  • Household installations
  • Living accommodation
  • Windows and ventilation
  • Means of escape 

HMO Complaints

Complaints received from tenants or members of the public regarding conditions within HMOs will be investigated by an Officer.

Occupied and common areas should provide a safe and healthy environment for occupiers and their visitors. To achieve this all HMOs should be designed, constructed and maintained to be free from unnecessary and avoidable hazards. It is sometimes not possible to eliminate all hazards, and reasonable allowances have to be made, especially in older properties. In general, it is the owner's responsibility to maintain the property and to carry out repairs.

Tenants have a responsibility to treat the property with respect, to report any hazards and necessary repairs to their landlord, and to co-operate with any reasonable request by the landlord to gain access to the property to carry out repairs.

When repairs or maintenance are required, tenants should always contact the landlord in the first instance. If a landlord ignores a tenant's request or refuses to carry out necessary repairs.  Where unacceptable hazards exist in a property, the Officer will contact the landlord to discuss the condition and the options available. Enforcement procedures are available where informal action is unsuccessful or inappropriate.

Planning Permission

Planning permission is required for new HMOs if it is intended to house 7 or more persons.

Contact us :

Telephone : 01226 772468


Write to us at :

Community Safety & Enforcement Service
Barnsley MBC
PO Box 634
S70 9GG

Our office hours are 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Friday.

Related information

 The Housing Act 2004

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