Houses in multiple occupation

Extended mandatory HMO licensing is now in force. If you own or manage a HMO meeting the new definition you must apply for a licence immediately. Proactive application fees will no longer apply after 15 October 2018.
Please be aware that due to a high number of applications received there may be a delay processing your application.

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 now.

Apply for a HMO licence

Applications made after 15 October 2018 or as a result of enforcement action will attract a higher licence fee to reflect the additional work undertaken by the council. In such cases, licences may also be issued for a reduced length of time due to poor management and business practice.

View current HMO licence fees

More information on the changes to HMO licensing is provided below. Full details of minimum room sizes and refuse disposal requirements can be found in our updated amenity standards. If you have a specific question please contact the HMO licensing team

Skip to:

HMO overview

What is a house in multiple occupation (HMO)?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property occupied by 3 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 seven 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 (external website), 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, we 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 5 or more tenants belonging to 2 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, renew or change a licence online at 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.

Fees are payable in two stages: £500 for each new application (£400 for renewals) payable upon application  and non-refundable. The licence fee will then be payable in full prior to a licence being issued.

HMO licence fees*
 Proactive application  Application through enforcement** Proactive application and Landlord 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 fee for applications made after 15 October 2018.

Pay licence fee

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 public register

Search our public register

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 the licensing of HMOs which carry fines on conviction, including operating an HMO without a licence and breaching licensing conditions. Alternatively, for relevant offences, the council may issue a civil penalty notice which carries a maximum fine of £30,000.

Where an offence has been committed, an application may be made to the First-Tier Property Tribunal (external website) 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 First-Tier Residential Property Tribunal (external website) 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.

Contact information

Private sector housing team