Search Legislation

Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Part 1: Meaning of “House in Multiple Occupation”

Section 1: Meaning of “house in multiple occupation”

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is defined in Section 1 as a building or part of a building (e.g., a flat) that is classed as living accommodation and is occupied by three or more people, who are members of more than two households. Additionally, accommodation is not an HMO unless rents are payable or other consideration is provided in respect of the accommodation.  The section also introduces Schedule 1 (exceptions) and confers a power to amend the definition of “house in multiple occupation”.

Section 2: Definition of living accommodation

Section 2 defines “living accommodation” for the purposes of section 1.  A building, or part of a building, is living accommodation (i) if it is capable of being occupied as a separate dwelling or (ii) if it forms part of any building or group of buildings in single ownership and its occupants share a toilet, personal washing facilities or facilities for the preparation or provision of cooked food.  “Single ownership” is defined in subsections (2) and (3) in a way which prevents avoidance of the legislation by artificially dividing ownership of a property between members of a family or connected companies.

Section 3: Cases where person is treated as occupying accommodation as only or main residence

Section 3 outlines the fact that people count as occupants only if the accommodation is their only or main residence. However, accommodation occupied by a student during term time is regarded as that person’s only or main residence.  People staying in domestic violence refuges are to be treated as occupying them as their only or main residence. A seasonal worker who is resident in accommodation during the period that they are engaged in seasonal work, are treated as occupying it as their only or main residence.

Section 4: Persons who are members of the same household

Section 4 specifies the meaning of “household” for the purposes of HMO licensing. This includes members of the same “family”: the definition of family includes married, unmarried and same-sex couples, and step children, as well as blood relatives. Additionally, a person who is a personal or domestic carer in a residential capacity is to be treated as a member of the household for the purposes of this Act.  There is a power for the Department to provide that other persons are treated as being in the same “household”.

Section 5: Notice regarding evidence of household

Section 5 makes provision for a council to serve a notice on the occupants of a house where the council believe there are three or more people residing in the property and these people form more than two separate households.  If insufficient evidence is provided that the house is not an HMO, the house is to be regarded as being one.

Section 6: Notice regarding continuation of occupation

Section 6 makes provision for a council to serve a notice on a property that has ceased to operate as an HMO, because its occupants have reduced below 3, but which the council believe is likely to become an HMO again within 4 months. For example a student house during the summer months can then be treated as an HMO for certain regulatory purposes, even though it may actually have fewer than 3 people residing in it during those months.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources