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House Of Multiple Occupancy and the Problems They Can Bring

House Of Multiple Occupancy and the Problems They Can Bring

The neighbour's perspective

The UK has a very transient population these days. With fewer people owning homes, and more renting, it's becoming harder to know our neighbours. This is a great shame since Neighbourhood Watch schemes really do work, so long as each neighbour is looking out for each other. In today's typical street, it's not uncommon to not even know who lives next door to us...and why bother, right? If you rent, you might be moving out of your home next year because of some landlord's decision.

However, that doesn't mean there is any less need for Neighbourhood Watch schemes. In fact, there's never been more need for such community action. Why? Because a transient population is potentially a dangerous one. Not knowing who lives on your street can pose a number of potential problems.

One of the biggest concerns are House Of Multiple Occupancy, or HMOs. There can be a number of problems these bring if the landlord is flouting the law in the following possible ways:-

  • housing - too many people
  • housing - illegal immigrants
  • housing - criminals
  • housing - individuals carrying out illegal activities within the property

Sadly, HMOs have a reputation that precedes them. It doesn't mean that you should automatically assume that the tenants living in them are doing anything illegal, but you should keep an eye on the property if you live nearby it. An HMO is very easy to spot - it will be the property that has the most people going in and out of it. If you DO suspect something nefarious or illegal might be happening in the property, it's a good idea to hire a private investigator to take a closer look.

The tenant's perspective

So you've moved into an HMO, and according to the contract, everything seems fair. You are sharing a property with 3 other individuals, and you all have your own private room, and you share the living room, kitchen and bathroom. All good.

However, sometimes contracts and reality itself do not correspond. If you find that one of the tenants is sub-letting to another individual (this extra person is literally living in the property all the time), or that actually the landlord has allowed for more people to live there than was stated on the contract, or the landlord has generally been neglecting his responsibilities, then you will need to document and collect proof of what you believe is a breach of contract. In situations where you may be accused of having a grudge against the landlord, or are simply finding it hard to prove a particular situation is occurring, a private investigator can provide you with a thorough HMO investigation - and offer not only their professionalism but also a third party, objective perspective. They can build up a picture of what is REALLY going on in the property, and along with your testimony, it can lead to a compelling case against the landlord.


This article isn't meant to be a slur against HMOs. Many HMOs house law-abiding citizens and are run by honest landlords. After all, I think that fairly-much describes typical student accommodation. However, some HMOs can be a viper's nest of illegal activity that can affect a whole neighbourhood. Other HMOs are physically unsafe to live in. The problems HMOs can have can be bigger than a typical house just because of the number of individuals it affects.

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