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Energy vulnerability in multiple occupancy housing: a problem that policy forgot


Housing in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) includes some of the UK’s worst housing stock. The tenants typically have reduced housing and social security rights, as well as reduced control and sometimes absence of basic domestic energy services. Yet, HMO is largely absent from UK policies governing energy efficiency and fuel poverty. Energy vulnerability in HMO is exacerbated by a lack of representation and recognition of HMO in official systems and statistics on the housing stock, socio-cultural preferences for traditional single-family homes, and widespread tenure prejudice based on negative imagery about HMO. An indicative typology of HMO is proposed based on five main tenancy scenarios: illegal/informal; rooms in a shared house; group of sharers; bedsits; and poorly converted flats. The purpose is to improve the recognition and inclusion of the variegated HMO sector in policy frameworks and public debates in a more nuanced fashion.