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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Shared housing and HMOs

Renting a room in a shared house used to be something associated with students or young people. But, this type of renting arrangement is becoming much more common, and many people live in shared housing well past their student years.

A house in multiple occupation, or HMO, is a particular type of rented housing, but not all shared housing will be a HMO. It's important to know if the home you are renting should be classed as a HMO. If it is, it must be licensed and meet extra safety standards.

A house in multiple occupation, or HMO, is a particular type of rented housing. HMOs are shared housing, and might be used by students, single people, young workers and people newly arrived in Northern Ireland.

These properties must be licensed. They must also meet extra safety standards.

All HMO properties must be licensed. Before a licence is granted, the council has to be satisfied that the property is suitable for the number of people who will be living in it and that the person who will be managing the property is “fit and proper”.

A shared property that is a HMO has to meet certain standards in order to get its HMO license.

If you share with other people, but the property isn’t regarded as a HMO your property just has to meet the basic fitness standard that applies to all rented housing.

As with all private tenants, you have certain responsibilities when you live in shared housing

Get advice if you are worried about problems in shared housing. If your property is a HMO, the council’s HMO unit may be able to help you.

If you're renting a property as part of a group, you need to pay close attention to the tenancy agreement. The wording on this agreement can control what happens if one of the group moves out. In some cases, the rest of the tenants can be made responsible for paying the extra rent as well as any rent that the former tenant hasn't paid.

There are a number of places you can find advertisements for rooms in shared properties. It’s very difficult to get out of a tenancy agreement once you’ve signed a contract so you should make sure that you’re happy with the accommodation and your flatmates before you sign.

Problems can occur when you share your home with other people, whether these are people you know really well or people you don't know at all.