If you live in a certain type of shared accommodation in England, your landlord may need to hold a licence. This type of shared accommodation is known as a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
You are likely to be living in an HMO if you share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen with people who are not members of your family. Your landlord will need a licence if you live in an HMO which is three or more storeys high, you share it with four or more other people and you are not all members of the same family. Your landlord may also need a licence if your local authority has decided that smaller HMOs and/or other private landlords should also be licensed in the area you live in. You can find out if this is the case by contacting the department of your local authority that deals with private rented housing.
If you are living in a property which is licensed, this means that the property has to meet certain standards and the landlord has to abide by certain conditions. Before it grants a licence, the local authority will consider whether or not the landlord is fit to manage the property. It will also say how many people are allowed to live in the building. The local authority can prosecute landlords who let properties without the necessary licence or who break the conditions of their licence.
The rules of the licensing system are complicated and some kinds of property are not included.
In England, if you live in an HMO, you must cooperate with your landlord to help them carry out their legal responsibilities. For example, you must:
• Follow your landlord's arrangements for storing and getting rid of rubbish.
• Follow any reasonable instructions about fire safety.
Landlords who rent out accommodation in HMOs are not allowed to discriminate against you because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation – see under heading Discrimination by private landlords. If a landlord who rents out accommodation in HMOs discriminates against you, you can report them to your local authority. Your local authority can take this information into account when they decide whether to grant the landlord a licence.