Houses in multiple occupation

Extended mandatory HMO licensing comes into force on 1 October 2018. 

Changes to HMO licensing

The scope of mandatory HMO licensing will be extended to cover certain HMOs, including flats, occupied by five or more persons in two or more households, regardless of the number of storeys. The details are contained in the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 (external website).

If you manage a property coming under this new definition you must apply for a licence by 1 October 2018. 

Due to the extension of mandatory licensing we are currently reviewing our processes and fees. We will continue to accept licence applications during this transition period with any licences issued under the new legislation coming into force on or after 1 October 2018. 

We expect further guidance and detail on the mandatory conditions. We will update this page, but should you have a specific questions please contact the Private Sector Housing team.

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.


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


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.


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


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

As of 26 February 2018, our licence fees are under review. Please contact the Private Sector Housing team for more information in relation to licensing fees.

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 monthly basis. This information is published on  DataShare, our home for open data.

Licence renewal

Licences must be renewed 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.

How 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

Private sector housing team