Student housing in England: list of specified educational establishments exempt from HMO regime updated

5 minute read
03 May 2016


The list of higher educational establishments, which manage and control student accommodation but which are exempt from statutory HMO licensing requirements, has been updated and revised.


HMO Licensing regime

The Housing Act 2004 (HA 2004) introduced a system of licensing by local housing authorities for houses in multiple occupation (HMO), with a view to improving management standards in relation to multi-occupied houses.

The basic test for a property to be designated a HMO under s.254 HA 2004 is that a building is occupied by at least two separate households (a single person, or members of the same family) as their only or main residence and those households share one or more basic amenities (being a toilet, washing facilities (bathroom) or cooking facilities (kitchen)).

Student accommodation as a HMO

Section 259 HA 2004 provides that persons who occupy a building during term time as their residence for the purpose of undertaking a full-time course of further or higher education will be treated as occupying as his/her only or main residence.

Houses or flats with individual room(s) occupied by such students, where cooking and/or washing facilities are shared by the occupants may therefore fall within the HMO regime. However, certain student halls of residence and other buildings occupied by students that are managed and controlled by higher educational establishments will not be classed as HMOs, as a result of an exemption contained in the legislation.

This exemption is provided for in Regulations made pursuant to the relevant provisions of HA 2004.

When does the exemption apply?

For students occupying a building, in England only, such a building will not be an HMO where:

  1. It is occupied wholly or mainly by students on full-time courses of further or higher education at a specified educational establishment that manages the building; and
  2. The educational establishment is specifically listed in Regulations; and
  3. The educational establishment is subject to an approved code of practice:

    The approved codes of practice are:

    • the ANUK/UNIPOL Code of Standards for Larger Developments for Student Accommodation Managed and Controlled by Educational Establishments dated 28 August 2008; and
    • the Universities UK/Guild HE Code of Practice for the Management of Student Housing dated 17 August 2010

Specified educational establishments: updated list

The list of specified educational establishments for England has been revised and is now set out in the Schedule to The Houses in Multiple Occupation (Specified Educational Establishments) (England) Regulations 2016. Some educational establishments appearing in the 2013 list no longer appear in the new list and a number of new establishments have been added to the new list which is effective from 13 April 2016.

You should consider the revised list of establishments at the earliest opportunity.

Limitations to the HMO exemption

Note that even where student accommodation is managed and controlled by a specified educational establishment, it will not be exempt from the HMO licensing regime if that accommodation is not managed in accordance with the Codes of Practice referred to above.

Student accommodation which is managed in accordance with the Codes will be subject to the HMO licensing regime where it is managed or controlled by a party that is not an exempted higher educational establishment.

England only

These provisions and the changes referred to apply to buildings in England only. Separate Regulations (and different Codes) govern the position in relation to buildings in Wales.

Useful links:

Codes of standards/Practice

Further details of the Codes referred to can be accessed from:

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