What are they?
These are houses where the residents have individual rooms but share some essential facilities, often bathrooms and kitchens. The original concern that gave rise to regulation was that the residents of HMOs might be exploited by their landlords. There have however been cases where neighbours have been concerned about anti-social behaviour on the part of the residents.
How are they regulated?
There are two forms of regulation: -
The main form of regulation is the licensing system operated by the local authority (in our case the Private Rental Sector Licensing section of the London Borough of Ealing). It applies to houses with 4 or more residents (and also to houses converted to flats under pre-1991 building regulations, but not to single storey buildings). As part of the application process, the licensing authority consults with all those that have a property interest, including mortgage companies, freeholders and leaseholders; but they do not consult with neighbours or residents’ associations. The application process takes several months and includes inspection of the premises room-by-room and an assessment of living facilities. The landlord has to sign an agreement and is given a permit that usually lasts for 5 years. (For landlords there is extensive information on the LBE website including a Landlord Information Pack, and this can be found at https://hmo-ealing.uk/houses-in-multiple-occupation/ . )
There is also regulation by the local planning authority (again in our case part of the London Borough of Ealing), who will apply both its development planning rules and also its change-of-use regulations:
HMOs in the area of the Residents Association
In July 2023, there were 13 HMOs in the HHERA area of which 8 were on the Estate and 5 in Boileau Road. You can find out if there are any licensed HMOs in your road by consulting the online public register at Public register - London Borough of Ealing (metastreet.co.uk)
What to do if you suspect a house is being operated as an HMO but without a licence ?
The licensing authority will be keen to hear from you if you suspect that a house is operating as an HMO and looks large enough to require a licence but does not in fact have one. They can be contacted by phone on 020 8858 9512 or by email at email@example.com .
What to do if there is anti-social behaviour on the part of residents of an HMO?
The licensing authority do not have the resources to monitor HMOs and their residents. So, they are keen to hear from neighbours if there is anti-social behaviour on the part of HMO residents. HMO landlords have an obligation as set out in their licence to address complaints regarding their tenants’ behaviour that may be brought to their attention by neighbours. If those neighbours are not satisfied with the response they get from the landlord, they can take it up with the licensing authority. The same contacts apply as were mentioned in the last paragraph.