Everything you need to know about an HMO



No, it’s not the name of an underground grime artist or an office of the Crown.

An HMO, or House in Multiple Occupation, is a property shared by three or more people who are unrelated.

HMO properties can be found across the land but they tend to cluster in urban areas with high student populations or temporary residents.

Landlords of such properties must get an HMO licence from the local authority to ensure they meet all safety regulations.

As a prospective tenant, you’ll find in most cases rental properties will be advertised as non-HMO or HMO-licensed.

If you’re a tenant or landlord in Scotland, you can find a detailed description of the licensing laws here

There are many reasons why you might prefer to live with others.

The biggest advantage is sharing the costs of the rental and all the bills. It means you can live in your favourite part of town, which might otherwise be out of reach in terms of your budget.

For many a big part of the appeal is the sociable nature of a shared flat.

If you’re coming to live in a new city, as a student or because you’re starting a new job, it can provide new pals.

Some housemates want to replicate the set of Friends, while others prefer to pass like ships in the night. Ensure you know which you’re signing up for.

Also be aware of the two main differences in types of HMO tenancies.

In a sole tenancy agreement, you are responsible only for your own actions in renting one area – normally your own room.

In a joint tenancy, however, everyone signs the same contract and takes equal responsibility for what happens in the property.

If you think shared living is for you, here are some questions to keep in mind when house or flat hunting on s1homes.


How many bathrooms are there for how many people? If you’re someone who likes to luxuriate in your morning shower, you should seek a low tenant-to-bathroom ratio.


HMO flats can be appealing to burglars because they tend to have multiples of every gadget for each tenant: tablet, phone, car keys and stereo. So take a look at the security features such as locks and alarms. Are they adequate?


Shared flats can generate more rubbish so check out the bin situation – are there enough recycling units for the number of tenants?


How much are the monthly bills and how are they split? What about broadband? These are things that can create friction so setting up a fair system at the start ensures no-one feels short-changed.


Cleaning (or not cleaning!) can also be a source of tension in a shared property when people have different attitudes to what’s acceptable – although it’s universally accepted last week’s dishes in the sink is a no-no! Sharing the cost of a cleaner can solve a lot of these issues.


Shared accommodation can present problems getting enough space. From living with a Bake Off fan who uses every shelf in the fridge to finding enough seats for everyone to watch EastEnders, it can be a struggle. So make sure there’s something for everyone when it comes to storage and seating.


Is this home party central or a monastic library? Make sure you find a home that matches your preferences.


Remember it’s a two-way thing. In joint HMOs the other tenants will have a say over who moves in so if they have a few people interested, make sure they like you best – and vice versa.

Finally, get on to s1homes to find the best HMO properties out there!

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