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What is the difference between a bedsit and an HMO?

Rented accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes – and the differences between one type of rental and another may be critical both to the tenant and the landlord.

At first sight, for example, a bedsit and rented accommodation in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) might seem remarkably similar to the tenant concerned. But there are critical differences – not least for the landlord for whom the legal obligations will differ as well as the appropriate type of insurance for each type of dwelling.

What is the difference between an HMO and a bedsit?

Distinguishing between a bedsit and accommodation in an HMO may be confusing because it can be argued that an HMO comprises a collection of individual bedsits. The principal difference is the term HMO refers to the whole building while a bedsit describes the individual units of accommodation with it.

For the landlord, that is a critical difference, because the let accommodation is either an HMO or it is a bedsit – it typically cannot be both.


  • a bedsit is typically defined as a single unit of accommodation – with its own, lockable entrance – most likely to offer shared amenities such as a bathroom and kitchen;
  • unlike rooms in an HMO, however, some bedsits might also offer basic cooking facilities and even an ensuite toilet and bathroom;


When it comes to the HMO definitions – and regulations – are altogether stricter and more rigorous:

  • the formal definition is unequivocal – an HMO involves shared facilities (kitchen, toilet, and bathroom) with other tenants and is occupied by at least three people who comprise more than one household;
  • that reference to more than one household makes for a critical difference – setting the HMO totally apart from any bedsit;
  • the distinction between different households and the fact that each one shares essential facilities lends the HMO a very particular style of living – and one that is often commonly referred to as a “house share”;
  • local authorities recognise the very particular living conditions represented by HMOs – and operate a licensing regime in an effort to maintain standards and to ensure that landlords are “fit and proper” persons for the job;
  • licences are required by all “large” HMOs – occupied by five or more people, comprising more than one household – but many local authorities have also extended this requirement to smaller HMOs.

Insurance matters

The very different conditions and legal requirements with which landlords need to comply are, of course, recognised by the providers of landlord insurance – and it is vital that you arrange the insurance cover that is appropriate to the type of let accommodation you own.

In your proposal for insurance with us here at Cover4LetProperty, for example, we specifically ask whether your landlord insurance is designed to cover a bedsit or bedsits or whether it is for a property with multiple tenants who are not a family but comprise separate households (in other words, an HMO).


It is all very well insisting that you arrange the appropriate type of landlord insurance for the specific type of property you own – whether bedsits or an HMO – but it can be confusing to distinguish the two.

If you are in any doubt or have further questions about the landlord insurance you need, therefore, do not hesitate to give us a call on 01702 606301 or email us at We will be delighted to help!

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