Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are licensed under the Housing Act 2004. The aim of licensing HMOs is to improve the health, safety and welfare standards and ensure satisfactory management of this high risk area of the private rented sector.
What are Houses in Multiple Occupation?
A building, or part of building is an HMO if it meets one of the following criteria:
- Any building in which two or more households share basic amenities (or the lack of an amenity) such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities; or
- Any flat in which two or more households share basic amenities; or
- Any converted building which comprises of one or more units of accommodation that are not self contained; or
- Any converted building which comprises of self contained flats and the standard of conversion does not meet the 1991 Building Regulation Standards and more than one third of the flats are occupied on short tenancies.
Which HMOs must be licensed?
It is now compulsory from the 1st October 2018 to licence all HMOs that:
- Have five or more people from two or more households (i.e. people not related, living together as a couple, etc); and
- Share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.
Anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed must apply for a licence. Failure to apply for a licence is an offence and you could be subject to enforcement action including an unlimited fine upon conviction or the issue of a civil penalty of up to £30,000 per property.
How do I apply for a licence?
To apply for a licence, you will need to complete a HMO Licence application form, provide certain information about the property e.g. gas safety certificate, electrical certificate and pay a fee.
Should you need to save the form part way through, a link will be sent to the email address you enter, which allows you to go back to into the partially completed form and finish it at a later date.
Please click here for guidance on completing the application form (pdf)
Can the Council attach conditions to the licence?
Yes, when a licence is granted it will come with conditions attached to ensure that the standards in the HMO continue to be maintained. There are mandatory conditions which require the licence holder to:
- Produce an annual gas safety certificate.
- Keep electrical appliances and furniture supplied by the landlord in a safe condition and to supply declarations of their safety to the Council on demand.
- Install smoke alarms and keep them in proper working order and to supply a declaration of their positioning and condition to the Council on demand.
- Supply to occupiers of the HMO a written statement of terms on which they occupy the house.
- To comply with any scheme which is provided by the local housing authority relating to the storage and disposal of household waste at the HMO pending collection.
- Minimum room sizes.
The licence may also specify additional conditions such as those relating to the facilities in the HMO, its condition and management of the building, including how the licence holder deals with the behaviours of occupiers.
The Council has introduced prescribed standards (pdf) for deciding the suitability for occupation of an HMO by a particular maximum number of households or people.
What happens if I breach any of the conditions on the licence?
If you fail to meet the conditions on a licence without a reasonable excuse you are committing a criminal offence and could face a fine of up to £5,000. If the breach is a serious or persistent one you may also have your licence revoked. The Council may revoke the licence if it considers management of the HMO to be unsatisfactory or that the HMO is no longer suitable to house the number of occupiers.
How much does a licence cost?
Every Local Authority sets its own fees and the fee can only cover the cost of licensing the HMO and can not be used to subsidise other Council work.
The cost of a licence will vary according to the number of people who occupy the HMO and the type of HMO. The fee is not refundable if a licence is not granted.
The proposed fee structure for HMO Licensing Applications effective under the revised mandatory scheme is:
Initial Application Fees
1. ‘Shared House’ accommodation
This type of multi-occupied accommodation consists of a house occupied by a group of unrelated people having their own bedrooms but sharing kitchens, bathrooms, and perhaps living rooms. This could be a group of students or young working people sharing a house.
A ‘standard’ fee has been calculated for a shared house occupied by 5 persons, with higher fees for increased numbers of occupants. The amounts are as follows:-
For a ‘standard’ 5 person shared house – £808
For a shared house accommodating 6 persons – £823
For a shared house accommodating 7 persons – £839
For a shared house accommodating 8 persons – £855
For a shared house accommodating 9 persons – £870
(each person thereafter incurs an additional cost of £16)
2. Bedsit accommodation
This type of multi-occupied accommodation consists of a house occupied by a number of unrelated people who each have their own rooms with cooking facilities but who share bathrooms. This includes non-self-contained flats where occupiers have to share facilities.
The amounts are as follows:-
For a house consisting of 2 individual bedsit units – £933
For a house consisting of 3 individual bedsit units – £996
For a house consisting of 4 individual bedsit units – £1059
For a house consisting of 5 individual bedsit units – £1121
For a house consisting of 6 individual bedsit units – £1184
(each unit thereafter incurs an additional cost of £63)
Please contact us for hostel type accommodation and renewal fees.
A license will normally last for 5 years, although the Council can grant a licence for a shorter period if it considers it necessary. Before the end of the licence period, you will be required to apply for a new licence.
A licence cannot be transferred and when a licence holder of an HMO either sells the property or ceases to be the most appropriate person to hold the licence, the new owner/manager will need to apply for a new licence. If someone controls or manages more than one HMO, they must apply for separate licences for each building.
The licence fee is not transferable to any new licence holder, nor is any refund available to anyone who ceases to be a licence holder.
How do I renew my licence?
Below are some other useful leaflets, forms and information on HMO’s
- Licensing of HMO’s in England – A guide for Landlords and Managers (external link)
- Licensing of HMO’s in England – A guide for Tenants (external link)
- Sleeping Accommodation Guide (pdf)
- Lacors Fire Safety Guidance (pdf)