Houses in multiple occupation

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

Changes to HMO licensing

From 1 October 2018 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.  More information on the changes to HMO licensing is provided below.

Due to the extension of mandatory licensing we are currently reviewing our processes. 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.

See HMO licence fees for current fees.

We expect further guidance and detail on mandatory conditions relating to minimum room sizes and refuse disposal.  We will update this page. If you have a specific question please contact the Private Sector Housing team. 

What is a HMO?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property occupied by three or more people forming two or more households, where facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms are normally shared. It includes bedsits, shared houses (students and professionals) and some self-contained flats. 

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. Further details are provided within HMO guidance below.

If the property is occupied by 7 or more persons, you will also require planning consent to operate the HMO.

Managing a HMO

Under the provisions of The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, any person managing an HMO of any size has a duty of care in respect of providing information to occupiers, taking safety measures, maintaining water supply and drainage, maintaining gas and electricity supplies, maintaining common parts and living accommodation and providing waste disposal facilities. 

Failing to effectively manage a HMO is an offence carrying fines on conviction.  Alternatively, the Council may issue a Civil Penalty Notice for relevant offences which carry a maximum fine of £30,000.

HMO guidance and resources

Licensing

The Government is extending the requirement for HMOs be licensed.  From 1 October 2018 licensing will apply to any HMO which accommodates five or more tenants belonging to two or more households, including small houses, flats, flats over commercial units and bungalows.

Exemptions

  • 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
  • Some converted buildings consisting of self-contained flats

Apply for a 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

From April 2018 the following fees are payable in relation to applications for a licence to operate an HMO.

HMO licence fees*
 Proactive application  Application through enforcement Proactive application and association member
New application   £800  £1000  £700
Renewal  £500  £700  £400

*The above fees are for properties with 5 bedrooms, for each additional bedroom there will a fee of £25.

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.

We may also attach additional conditions where relevant, relating to management, use and occupation, condition and contents of the property.

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

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

HMO licensing guidance

HMO register

We keep a public register of all licensed HMOs

We publish this data on a monthly basis. This information is published on  DataShare, our home for open data.

Varying a licence

Where there has been a change of circumstances since a licence was issued, we may vary the licence.  Changes of circumstances may include, a change made to the property, a change of manager or a change in relevant legislation.

Renewing a licence

Licences must be renewed where the licence is due to expire and must be in the same name as the previous licence.

Operating without a licence

There are several offences in relation to licensing of HMOs which carry fines on conviction, including operating an HMO without a licence and breaching licensing conditions.  Alternatively, the Council may issue a Civil Penalty Notice for relevant offences which carry a maximum fine of £30,000.

Where an offence has been committed an application may be made to the First Tier Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order.  If granted, the person receiving rent must repay the amount received during the time in which the HMO has been operating without a licence, up to a maximum of 12 months.  The Council may make this application where rent has been paid through Housing Benefit but it is also possible for tenants to apply for a Rent Repayment Order to recover rent paid over the same period of time.

Appeals procedure

All appeals should be made to us in writing in the first instance. You may also appeal to the 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.

First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber - Residential Property) (external website)

Contact information

Private sector housing team