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What is an HMO?

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a building (or part of a building, such as a flat or bedsit) that:

  • is occupied by more than one household and where more than one household shares amenities (or lacks amenities) such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities

  • is occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building, but not entirely made up of self-contained flats (whether some amenities are shared or lacking).

  • is made up of self-contained flats but the conversion does not meet, at a minimum, the standard required by the Building Regulations 1991, and at least one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies.

A household refers to:

  • families, including single people, couples and same-sex couples

  • other relationships, such as foster and other carers and domestic staff.

The building may be occupied by more than one household:

  • as their only or main residence

  • as a refuge for people escaping domestic violence

  • by students during term time

  • for other purposes prescribed by the government.

Licence summary

You are required to licence a property if it is:

  • a property occupied by five or more people forming two or more separate households, regardless of the number of storeys, or

  • a purpose-built flat in a block of up to two flats and occupied as an HMO by five or more people.

HMO licences need to be renewed every five years.

If you have a property that meets the description above and you do not already hold a licence for that property then you need to apply for a licence.

What happens if I don't apply for a licence?

You could get an unlimited fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO.

Are there any restrictions?

You must be a fit and proper person to hold an HMO licence. We may carry out checks to verify if you have:

  • any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud

  • previously broken any housing related laws or laws relating to landlord and tenant issues

  • previously managed HMOs that have breached any approved code of practice.

Building Control approval for HMOs

Please note that Building Control approval is required for change of use to HMOs (rooms for residential use) for 7 or more persons.

Building regulations will also be required for a variety of renovation works, including plumbing and electrics, thermal insulation, structural alterations and extensions. Please submit an application.

For more information, please email or call 03007 729622.

How do I apply?

Complete the application and pay the fee online. You will also need to provide a site layout plan showing the site boundaries and the proposed arrangements of the HMO accommodation.

Apply for an HMO Licence Online

After we receive your application we will arrange to inspect your HMO to make sure it meets the required standards [PDF, 0.1MB], management, facilities and fire safety. If we find that the premises are satisfactory we will issue you with a licence and details of any licence conditions [PDF, 0.1MB].

How do I renew?

You must renew your licence before it runs out.

Complete the application and pay the fee online. After we received your application we may arrange to inspect your HMO to make sure it continues to meet the required standards for condition, management, facilities and fire safety. If we find that the premises are satisfactory we will issue you with a licence and details of any licence conditions.

Renew a HMO Licence Online


  • initial licence: £550

  • licence renewal: £200

  • revocation of licence: £100

  • variation of licence simple £60.80

  • variation of licence large (inspection required) £145.92

If an HMO fails to meet the terms and conditions of the licence, a further charge of £97 per additional officer/visit plus any third party costs (such as gas engineers' fees) may be payable when you renew your licence.

Does tacit consent apply?

No. You must obtain a licence before operating an HMO.

What are the penalties for failing to have a licence?

It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence. An unlimited fine may be imposed for failing to obtain a licence and up to £5,000 for breaching a licence condition.

In certain circumstances, landlords may be required to repay any rent or housing benefit received while the HMO was not licensed.

We are authorised to take control of a property if there is no reasonable prospect of it being licensed in order to protect the safety, health and welfare of occupiers and neighbours.

Appeals and complaints

If you are refused a licence or want to appeal against a licence condition you can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) within 28 days of the decision being made.

If you have any concerns or complaints about an HMO or suspect that an HMO is not licensed, please contact us.