What is a house in multiple occupation (HMO)?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a type of residential property where the occupants do not form a single household, but instead have their own individual tenancy agreements or licences to occupy part of the whole property. An example of this type of property would be a large "bed-sit" property – where the tenants rent their own rooms and share bathroom and kitchen facilities and other communal areas with other tenants. Another example would be smaller residential houses and flats that have been let to several tenants who pay their rent direct to the owner or landlord and who have their own tenancy agreements.

The property may or may not have been structurally adapted for this purpose and there can be any number of tenants living in the property.

How does this affect the council tax?

Council tax is usually paid by the people who actually live in the property – for example owner-occupiers, or private or council tenants who have a tenancy that allows them to occupy the whole of the property. The council tax due on properties that are designated houses in multiple occupation is the responsibility of the owner of the property.

I am an owner of a property. How does this affect me?

If you let your property to several tenants who, rather than having one joint tenancy agreement, have their own individual tenancy agreements, or if you charge each of the tenants separate rents that they pay direct to you, then you will be responsible for payment of the council tax direct to the council. You should let us know as soon as possible if you let the property in this way so that we can send you a correct bill.

If your property is a house in multiple occupation, you do not have to keep us informed of any changes in occupants unless the tenancies change in such a way that the property may no longer be classified as an house in multiple occupation, for example, you may decide to let the property as a family home or to joint tenants.

If your property is designated as a house in multiple occupation, the financial status of your tenants (who may be receiving benefits) will not affect your council tax liability, although your tenants may be able to claim housing benefit in their own right (you will not be eligible to claim council tax benefit). You can therefore specify that a certain portion of the rent you are charging is to cover council tax, so that this can be taken into account when your tenant’s entitlement to housing benefit is assessed.

If you let your property exclusively to full time qualifying students you may be exempt from council tax and if you are able to provide evidence of this your claim for this exemption will be considered.

I am a tenant of a property. How does this affect me and what do I do if I think I have been charged council tax in error?

If you have a tenancy agreement that only allows you to occupy a room or part of the whole property, or if you share the property with other tenants who like you have their own tenancy agreement, you may not liable to pay the council tax. If this is the case, and we have sent a bill in your name or in the names of any of the other occupiers of the property please contact us as soon as possible so we can let you know what you need to do.

Please note that if the property is designated as a house in multiple occupation, although you are not directly liable for council tax, your landlord may include an amount for council tax in your rent or may

Who decides who has to pay the council tax?

The council tax office makes the decision after receiving relevant evidence from all of the parties concerned. You may be asked to complete a questionnaire or to supply copies of tenancy agreements. The council tax office may also consider evidence from its housing benefits or environmental services teams.

Please note that the regulations concerning the designation of houses in multiple occupation when deciding council tax liability are specific for that purpose and are separate from any regulations that may be applicable to other council departments who, for differing reasons may also be interested in deciding whether a property is multi–occupied.

What if I disagree with the decision?

You will be advised in writing of the decision and any appeal against the designation of a property as a house in multiple occupation must be made in writing to the council tax office in the first instance. A further appeal can be made to an independent tribunal in the event of further dispute.