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Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

What an HMO is

If you let your property to several tenants who are not members of the same family, it may be a 'House in Multiple Occupation' (HMO).

Your property is an HMO if both of the following apply:

  • at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than one household
  • toilet, bathroom, or kitchen facilities are shared

A 'household' is either a single person, or members of the same family who live together. This includes people who are married or living together, and people in same-sex relationships.

For more information about HMOs, contact the Public Protection Service via email to, or call 01642 726001.

HMO licence

If you own or manage a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), you may need a licence to rent it out. You'll need a separate licence for each property you own or manage.

HMOs which need a licence

An HMO which houses 5 or more people will need a licence.

You'll need a licence if the property is occupied by 5 or more people who are living as 2 or more separate households, and sharing amenities (like kitchens and bathrooms). Buildings made up of self-contained flats or purpose-built flats do not usually need an HMO licence.

HMOs must meet certain standards, which include amenities and minimum room sizes. You can find out more in the guide to HMO licensing in Middlesbrough. You should also make sure the property complies with fire safety law.

Licences normally last for 5 years. They are granted based on the layout of the property when you applied for the licence. If there are any changes to the property in the future, you must let us know, and apply for a variation of the licence. This might be, for example, an increase or decrease in the number of bedrooms, or any other changes of circumstances in the use of the property as an HMO after the licence has been granted.

If the property is converted back into a single family dwelling, you should tell us so the licence can be revoked.

Apply for an HMO licence

You can apply for an HMO licence online.

The licence fee is £665 for HMOs with 5 bedrooms, plus a further £22 for each additional bedroom.

A guide to completing an HMO licence application form is available.

HMOs which do not need a licence

An HMO which houses 4 people or fewer will not need a licence.

However, the property must still have suitable fire precautions and means of escape in a fire. Find out more about fire safety law.

You should also familiarise yourself with The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

Even if your HMO doesn't need a licence, please make sure we're aware of it by emailing You should also make sure that Cleveland Fire Brigade is aware of it by emailing

HMO register

We hold a public register of all HMOs in Middlesbrough which is updated every 3 months. You can see the latest HMO licensing register on the open data website.