You would think that the answer to this question would be a simple one and relates to how much space you have. While the number of spare bedrooms may dictate how many lodgers you could theoretically have, there are actually regulations that govern the amount you can have in your home in the UK.

What are the regulations and what do I need to be aware of?

The legislation that you need to be aware of is the Housing Act 2004. Within it is the definition of an HMO – House of Multiple Occupancy.

What is an HMO?

According to the act, an HMO is a house with three unrelated people sharing, forming two or more households, and who share a bathroom, kitchen or toilet.

The fact it mentions a house isn’t relevant as it could, of course, include a flat, barn conversion or any other kind of dwelling. The important thing to note is the number of people and the term “unrelated”.

Will having lodgers turn my property into an HMO?

If you have two lodgers, according to the above definition, your home won’t be classed as an HMO. This will of course change if you take in another lodger, which will tip the balance.

What is the bit about “unrelated”?

This can actually be key. A family unit is generally defined as people you are related to, as well as step and foster children etc. This means that if your uncle, cousin or nephew, for example, comes to live with you, they’ll simply be viewed as an extension of the family rather than a lodger.

The upshot of this is that you can have three family members staying with you, and charge them rent, and you won’t be classed as an HMO.

Why do I need to worry about being an HMO?

The main concern you’ll have with your property being classed as an HMO is that you may need to secure a license. In most instances this won’t be the case, unless you have four or more lodgers living with you in the same property.

If I won’t be classed as an HMO, what other things do I need to consider?

Space will be your biggest concern, along with your own lifestyle and how much you want lodgers to encroach on this. For example, if you have one double room you may be able to look for a couple as lodgers, but you will need to be prepared to live with everything that a couple may bring. Again, if you have two rooms spare, getting two lodgers in may make sense financially but it could make your home feel crowded and less like your own space.