Houses in multiple occupation

Definition

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a building which is occupied by two or more households who share basic facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms or WCs.

The definition of HMO includes shared houses and some student accommodation.

Student houses

The law defines a household as members of the same family, persons who are married to each other or living as a married couple.  Student houses are classed as HMOs as students would not be members of the same household.

Exemptions

Some properties occupied by multiple households are not defined as HMOs, including:

  • buildings managed by public sector bodies such as housing associations, the police, the fire authority and the NHS
  • student halls of residence managed by an educational establishment

Standards

It is likely that houses which fall under the definition of an HMO for the first time will require some work to meet the standards. All HMOs will need to meet the basic standards for facilities, fire detection and management arrangements.

Enforcement

If you fail to do the work needed you may be subject to prosecution. We are responsible for enforcing HMO standards within the Wycombe district.

Safety, warmth and repair standards

We work to ensure that housing is warm, in good repair and meets an acceptable standard. For HMOs there are additional standards for heating, washing facilities, kitchens and fire precautions.

HMO fact sheets

Other resources

Licensing

Properties must be licensed by us if:

  • the property is three storeys or more, and
  • the property is let to five or more tenants who form more than one household

It is an offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence. You cannot legally collect any rent on the property and you may be prosecuted with a maximum fine of £20,000. You may also have to repay any rent received over the previous 12-month period.

Apply for an HMO licence

You can pay and apply for a licence or change a licence online on GOV.UK:

Alternatively, please contact us to make an application.

Licence fees

Each application must include a fee to cover the cost of processing the licence and administration. Discounts are available for accredited properties and additional applications.

Licence fees for houses in multiple occupation
Type of HMO licence requiredFee
Basic licence fee (for a 5 bed property) £500
Extra cost per unit of accommodation £25
Reduction for accredited property -£20
Reduction for prompt re-licence application -£50
Reduction for subsequent applications (fit and proper already determined) -£50
Additional cost for assisted applications (plans etc) £200

Licence requirements

To obtain a licence, we must be satisfied that:

  • the property meets the current housing and fire safety standards to ensure it is safe for tenants
  • the property meets amenity standards, such as an adequate number of bathrooms and cooking facilities
  • the landlord or managing agent is a 'fit and proper' person
  • the property and tenancy agreements are managed appropriately

Conditions attached to the licence include:

  • the requirement to provide a gas safety certificate every 12 months
  • a current electrical safety certificate for the property
  • the safe condition of furniture and fittings
  • the provision and maintenance of smoke alarms
  • the requirement to provide a written tenancy agreement.

The licence can last for up to five years, but we may issue a licence for a shorter period if appropriate.

This licence will specify the maximum number of people who can live in the property and must be displayed prominently in the property.

HMO register

We keep a public register of all licensed HMOs

We publish this data on an ad hoc basis. This information is published on DataShare, our home for open data.

Renewal of licence

Renewals are required where the licence is due to expire and must be in the same name as the previous licence.

Appeals procedure

All appeals should be made to us in the first instance. You may also appeal to a residential property tribunal within 28 days of the decision being made. Appeals can be made on the basis of a failed application, conditions attached to a licence or any decision to vary or revoke a licence.

Wish to complain?

All complaints should be made to us in the first instance. If a licence is granted and you wish to appeal you may do so to a residential property tribunal within 28 days of the licence being issued.

Contact information

 Email: environmentalhealth@wycombe.gov.uk

  • Telephone: 01494 412247 or 01494 412249