The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation

From 1 October 2018 HMO licensing is no longer be limited to certain HMOs which are 3 or more storeys high, but can also apply to buildings with one or two storeys where there are:

  • 5 people or more people in more than one household and
  • there is some sharing of basic amenities between those households

For full details of the HMO types that fall within Mandatory HMO licensing please refer to The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 here.

New mandatory licence conditions specify minimum sizes for rooms used for sleeping and new requirements for waste disposal arrangements for licensable HMOs. Full details can be found in the Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 here.

Larger HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, often have poorer physical and management standards than other privately rented properties. The people who live in HMOs are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. As  HMOs are the only housing option for many people, the government recognises that it is vital that they are properly regulated.

Licensing is intended to make sure that:

  • Landlords of HMOs are fit and proper people, and employ managers who are.
  • Each HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence.
  • The standard of management of the HMO is adequate.
  • High risk HMOs can be identified and targeted for improvement.

Where landlords refuse to meet these criteria the Council can intervene.

No. Only those that:

  • have five or more people in more than one household, and
  • share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities

Anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed has to apply to the
Council for a licence. The Council must give a licence if it is satisfied that the:

  • HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence.
  • Proposed licence holder is a fit and proper person.
  • Proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence.
  • Proposed manager, if there is one, is fit and proper.
  • Proposed management arrangement are satisfactory, the person involved in the management of the HMO is competent and the financial structures for the
    management are suitable.

The Council will carry out checks to make sure that the person applying for the licence is a fit and proper person. In deciding whether someone is fit and proper the Council must take into account:

  • Any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud.
  • Whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues.
  • Whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination.
  • Whether the person has previously managed HMOs that have broken any approved code of practice.

The licence will specify the maximum number of people who may live in the HMO. It will also include the following conditions, which apply to every licence:

  • A valid current gas safety certificate, which is renewed annually, must be provided.
  • Proof that all electrical appliances and furniture are kept in a safe condition.
  • Proof that all smoke alarms are correctly positioned and installed.
  • Each occupier must have a written statement of the terms on which they occupy the property, for example, a tenancy agreement.
  • Rooms used for sleeping meet minimum sizes
  • The waste storage and disposal arrangements meet the Council’s requirements.

Councils may also apply the following conditions:

  • Restrictions or prohibitions on the use of parts of the HMO by occupants.
  • The landlord or manager must take steps to deal with the behaviour of occupants or visitors.
  • To ensure that the condition of the property, its contents, such as furniture and all facilities and amenities, bathroom and toilets for example, are in good working order
  • To carry out specified works or repairs within a particular time frame.
  • A requirement that the responsible person attends an approved training course.

A licence will normally last for a maximum of five years, although it can be for a shorter period.

Landlords will have to pay a fee to cover the administration costs of the licence procedure. This fee is currently £919 per property.

Yes, if the property does not meet the conditions set out above and/or the licence holder or manager is not a fit and proper person.

You may appeal if the Council decides to:

  • Refuse a licence.
  • Grant a licence with conditions.
  • Revoke a licence.
  • Vary a licence.
  • Refuse to vary a licence.

You must appeal to the First Tier Tribunal, normally within 28 days.

It is an offence if the landlord or person in control of the property:

  • Fails to apply for a licence for a licensable property, or
  • Allows and property to be occupied by more people than are permitted under the licence.

A substantial fine may be imposed for these offences. In addition, breaking any of the licence conditions can also result in fines being imposed.

A tenant living in a property that should have been licensed, but was not, can apply to the First Tier Tribunal to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicensed period (up to a limit of 12 months). Councils can also reclaim any housing benefit that has been paid during the time the property was without a licence.

If the landlord or person in control of the property intends to stop operating as a HMO or reduce the numbers of occupants and can give clear evidence of this, then she or he can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice. This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from a HMO does not need to be licensed. If the situation is not resolved, then a second Temporary Exemption Notice can be issued. When this runs out the property must be licensed, become subject to an Interim Management Order, or cease to be an HMO.

To apply for an HMO licence for the first time, or renew an existing one which is due to expire, contact Housing Services.