A house of multiple occupation (HMO) is broadly defined as a dwelling that is occupied by two or more persons not living as a single household, but sharing certain facilities such as toilets, bathrooms and kitchens.
When determining whether a group of occupants form a single household, an enforcing authority will assess a number of areas, e.g. tenancy agreements, use of communal areas, relationship between residents, locks on bedroom doors, etc.
The most common types of HMO are:
- Houses divided into bedsits or flatlets;
- Houses occupied by three or more students; or
- Bed & breakfast establishments accommodating homeless people.
When a property is in multiple occupation, the risk of fire breaking out is greater than in an ordinary single family home. Some of the reasons for this are:
- Portable heating appliances being used.
- There is often more than one kitchen present, and kitchens can be shared by a number of individual residents.
- Electrical circuits becoming overloaded.
- There are more people in the house who are living independently of, and have no control over, each other’s behaviour.
See also: The law and HMO fire safety