Generally this term covers any property where the individual rooms are let out and it is not being occupied as a single family unit. The law on this matter is complex and interpreted very differently by some rural local authorities compared with the larger Metropolitan Boroughs which often set high standards for fittings, general maintenance and especially the fire precautions. This reflects the statistical fact that deaths from domestic fires are several times higher in HMOs than in normal homes. The Homes Act 2004 has set out provisions which will allow the Government to introduce tighter regulations about HMOs.
Some local authorities do
not count letting a single room to students, or whoever, as creating a Home in
Multiple Occupation (known as HMOs) and others have already introduced bye-laws
stating the minimum number of occupants that constitute an HMO. Generally, purpose-built
flats are not HMOs but where any domestic facilities are shared the matter becomes
debatable. For example, if the tenants share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities
then the property is almost certainly an HMO.