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Applying for a Licence for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)


Landlords you may need a licence to let a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) - a rented property with shared facilities. You must also maintain good housing conditions, otherwise tenants can complain to the council.   

Does an HMO need a licence?

It  is mandatory for certain larger HMO’s to have a licence if they are:

·       of three or more storeys


·       occupied by five or more persons who form more than one household

Examples of a HMO that needs a licence, let to 5 or more unrelated people:

·            A semi detached house with two floors and also a loft conversion

·            A terraced house with two floors and also a habitable cellar

·            A new build property with three or more floors

Making the application

As a landlord, you need to submit a HMO licensing application form.   Application forms and guidance notes can be downloaded from the Related Documents section below or by contacting Housing Services.  You would usually apply for a licence yourself, but if you use a managing agent they can apply for you.

When you apply, you must tell the following people who have an interest in the HMO:

·       the owner of the HMO

·       the future licence holder

·       mortgagee

·       long leasehold tenants

·       any person who has agreed to be bound by the conditions of the licence

A number of certificates will need to accompany the application form;

·       Landlords Gas Safety Certificate

·       Design, installation and commissioning certificates for the L2 Fire alarm system and/or test certificate

·       Emergency lighting test certificate

·       Service contract for alarm and fire systems

·       Periodic test certificate for the electrical installation

·       Portable appliance test certificates (if applicable)

·       Building Regulations completion certificate (if applicable)

·       Current tenancy agreements

A licence will normally last for five years and will need to be renewed before the end of that period. The council can shorten the time period if they feel it is necessary.

How a council decides to grant an HMO licence

The council will look at many things to help them process your licence application, like the suitability of the:

·       HMO for the number of tenants

·       facilities - kitchen, bathroom and toilets

·       landlord - are they fit and proper

·       management arrangements

The council must be satisfied that you are a suitable person to hold a licence, otherwise they may ask for someone else to hold it.

When an HMO licence is refused

If the council refuses to grant you a licence, they will try to solve the issues with you. If nothing can be worked out and a licence is still refused, you can appeal to a Residential Property Tribunal.

If a council refuses a licence they must make an Interim Management Order which will enable it to take over management of the HMO. They can do so for a maximum of 12 months.

If at the end of the 12 months a licence still cannot be granted, the council must make a Final Management Order. The final order puts in place long-term management by the council for the HMO, which can last a maximum of five years. When a final order ends, either a licence can be granted or the council makes a new final management order.

You can appeal against the making of an interim or a final management order through a Residential Property Tribunal.

Licence conditions for an HMO

If you are granted a licence for your HMO, you must meet the conditions that your local housing authority sets out. Examples of conditions they set out are:

·       producing an annual gas safety certificate

·       making sure all electrical equipment and furniture that you supply is safe

·       installing smoke alarms and making sure they work properly – see section of Fire Safety below

·       giving tenants a copy of the statement of terms for living in the HMO

A council may also set additional conditions, like:

·       standard of facilities

·       management of the HMO

·       how you deal with tenant behaviour

All these conditions are to make sure you maintain your HMO to a good standard and manage it well. If you disagree with any conditions that have been set, you can appeal to a Residential Property Tribunal.

When changes happen to an HMO

As a landlord, you should be aware that the circumstances at your HMO might change in any of the following ways:

·       the house is no longer in multiple occupation

·       your tenant has allowed more people to live there than the HMO licence allows

·       the licence holder is no longer suitable - fit and proper - to hold a licence

·       the management is no longer suitable to manage an HMO

·       you want to change the HMO licence holder

·       the HMO is no longer suitable to be considered an HMO

·       you want to change the HMO to occupation by a single household

·       you want to sell the property

Some of these changes may be the result of local authority decisions. Others may happen because of decisions taken by you or your tenants.

If you plan to make changes then you must tell the local authority. It may need to change the conditions of your licence, cancel it, or give you a different type of licence.

If the changes you plan to make affect your licence conditions, you can apply to your local authority to change your licence conditions.  You can do this using the form called 'Proposal for a variation of existing HMO licence conditions by consent' and you may need to pay an application fee. The form should include:

·       details of the licence condition which needs to change

·       how and why this change needs to be made

Sometimes your tenants may make changes or their circumstances may change that mean the HMO licence terms will be broken (eg a tenant has a child and too many people live in the house). If this happens, you should work out with them a way to make sure that the property meets the conditions of the licence. If you and the tenant cannot work out a solution, you must contact your local authority to explain the difficulty. 

Penalties for not having a licence

If a HMO is of a description which should be licensed but is not, it will be an offence to allow it to be occupied.  If the appropriate person (owner, agent etc) is convicted of operating a HMO without a licence, not only can they be prosecuted, the Local Authority can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal to have any housing benefit repaid and occupiers can apply to have rent repaid.

Fire Safety in all HMO’s

Fire safety measures are now required in ALL HMO's (whether it needs a Licence or not) and the council recommends that you work towards meeting the guidance  'A guide to Fire & Security Protection in Multi-Occupied Residential Properties' which is produced by the Homestamp consortium.  Please see the Related Documents section below or by following the relevant web links.  You may also need to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005


Visit the Communities & Local Government web site for more detailed information.   Alternatively, please contact  the Housing Services team on 01782 742543

Licence Fees & Charges 2015/16


Licence Application Fee
               Additional fee for each extra bedroom
Charge for re-submission of returned application
Renewal of existing Licence
               Additional fee for each extra bedroom


The fee for a property with 5 bedrooms would be £540.00
The fee for a property with 7 bedrooms would be £540.00 plus 2 x £7.00 = £554.00
The renewal fee for a property with 5 bedrooms would be £405.00
The renewal fee for a property with 7 bedrooms would be £405.00 plus 2 x £7.00 = £419.00

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