Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) – sizes, spaces and safety

As surveyors working in Bath and Bristol we regularly carry out valuations and surveys on properties that have been granted an HMO license. In England, there are certain rules around the minimum size of rooms for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which are outlined in the Housing Act 2004 and the Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2018, as well as health and safety requirements to be met.

There is a requirement for:

  • Minimum room size for single adult occupancy to be at least 6.51 square metres.
  • Minimum room size for double adult occupancy to be at least 10.22 square metres.

Usable space that is counted towards the overall size must have a minimum ceiling height of 1.5 metres. Areas counted towards the minimum size are generally from the closed room door onwards and are calculated from measurements taken between the room walls (not skirting boards). En-suites are not included in bedroom sizes.

In addition, it is worth noting that a 5 person property occupancy requires a minimum of 2 bathrooms (or 1 x bathroom, 1 x WC), where reasonably practicable. And that the total communal space (which includes living rooms and kitchens), must be a minimum of 13.5 square metres for 1-3 person occupancy, 17 square metres for a 4 person occupancy and 18 square metres for a 5 person occupancy.

Fire safety is an extremely important consideration when managing an HMO property. Well fitting fire doors conforming to BS 476-22 should be installed on all shared kitchen doors and fire blankets provided. Fire doors need to be FD30 rated, self-closing and fitted with intumescent strips. An appropriate fire detection and alarm system must be fitted and tested regularly. Detectors and sounders should be fitted to a central system and professionally serviced. In addition, all bedroom doors should be of solid, conventional construction and lockable fire escape doors should have thumb locks on the inside for quick means of escape.

As well as fire safety, there are additional health and safety requirements that must be met in order to be granted and HMO license. These include annual gas safety certificates, keeping the house in a generally safe and habitable condition, carbon monoxide detection and sufficient rubbish and recycling containers internally and externally. Local councils list specific conditions that must be met in more detail and can vary somewhat depending on your local area.

It is important to note that these rules apply specifically to HMOs, which are properties occupied by three or more tenants who form more than one household and share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom. If you are unsure whether your property falls under these rules, it is best to check with your local council. As residential property surveyors we are able to check on any specific HMO related queries purchasers may have prior to purchase, such as room sizes, when carrying out our survey. Local council Housing Services departments will then be able to discuss in detail what conditions must be met and how.