Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) can offer good quality affordable accommodation to people who cannot afford to buy their own homes and are not eligible for council housing.

HMO standards

Although houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) provide a good source of housing, it is possible to find the very worst housing standards in HMOs. These tenants are most at risk from poor management.

Because of this, most of the standards for HMOs are set by the Government and are minimum requirements. Other standards are given as a guide to what we believe is reasonable for the health and safety of the people living there.

The standards include:

  • fire precautions and means of escape in case of fire
  • adequate amenities (kitchen and bathrooms) are provided
  • adequate space is available to tenants and there is no overcrowding
  • proper management is in place

To measure other risks in HMOs, in particular repair and fire safety risks, we use the housing health and safety hazard rating system (HHSRS).

Summary standards guides

Checking HMO standards

We carry out routine inspections of all known HMOs in Lambeth. If conditions are not up to the required standards the landlord is required to improve them.

Also, if a landlord wants to set up a new HMO, one of our officers will visit the property and give advice on the requirements for the property.

We also respond to complaints received from occupying tenants or other people or services.

Changes to inspections as a result of coronavirus

During the current coronavirus pandemic we are operating a reduced service. We will only be visiting properties where there is an imminent risk to health or safety, that is, where the risk posed by the issues is greater than the potential for spreading coronavirus.

Examples include:

  • sewage in someone’s home
  • structural collapse
  • falling building elements, such as glass or failing walls
  • pests that can spread disease
  • imminent risk of fire
  • electrocution
  • carbon monoxide leaks

In all other cases officers will try and assist you by phone or email. Officers may also need to be redeployed to help deal with the response to COVID-19. This means it will take longer to deal with your request than usual. Thank you for your patience.

If you live in an HMO and are concerned that it doesn't meet these standards contact us.