What is a House in Multiple Occupation?

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According to the Housing Act 2004, a House in Multiple Occupation, or HMO, is a building, or part of a building, that is occupied by 3 or more persons who do not form a single household - in other words, are not family members. For example:

  • A house converted into three or more bedsits;
  • A house converted into self-contained flats where less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied and the flats were not converted in accordance with the 1991 Building Regulations;
  • A house occupied by three friends who rent from a private landlord;
  • A house let to a group of four students;
  • A flat with three or more bedsits (even if the flats were converted in accordance with the 1991 Building Regulations and more than two thirds of the flats in the building are owner occupied);
  • A house occupied by a married couple and a friend.

Please note, the rules regarding which properties count as HMOs for Council Tax, are different to the rules regarding which properties count as HMOs for licensing purposes.

Planning permission

All landlords must apply for planning permission when converting a property into a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). An application for planning permission will not be required where there are not more than six persons living together as a single household, unless that property is located within the Article 4 Direction Area for HMOs.

Further information

Please contact Development Management for further advice by emailing: DM@ipswich.gov.uk  


All HMOs are inspected with regard to the following:

  • Fire and amenity standards;
  • Manager and tenant responsibilities;
  • Housing standards and enforcement;
  • Determination of whether the property should be licensed.

More information on these inspections is available on the pages below:

Applying for a Licence

Fire and Amemity Standards

Manager and Tenant Responsibilities

Register of licensed HMOs

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Contact Details

Private Sector Housing,
Ipswich Borough Council,
4W Grafton House,
15-17 Russell Road,

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01473 432000