House in Multiple Occupation
The Housing Act 2004 introduced Mandatory Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). The aim of HMO licensing is to ensure that the highest risk properties in the private rental market are identified, meet legal standards and are properly managed, for the benefit of both the landlord and tenants. A landlord must have a licence for a privately-rented HMO if the property:
- Is three or more storeys high and
- has five or more people in more than one household and
- share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities
How do I apply for a Licence?
To license a property, landlords need to complete an application form (see downloads) and then to contact Housing Standards (see contacts) to make an appointment to submit your application in person. The completed application should include:
- One form of photographic ID and proof of address (provided in person)
- Fire alarm test/commissioning certificate as required by BS5939 (yearly)
- Emergency lighting test/fire extinguisher commissioning certificate (yearly)
- Gas safety certificate (yearly)
- Periodic test certificate for electrical installation (every 5 years)
- Scale layout plan of property
- Portable appliance testing certificate for appliances provided by the landlord
- Copy of the anti-social behaviour clause
The property will then be inspected by an officer in Housing Standards to assess whether the property is suitable for the number of proposed tenants and as to whether the amenities and fire precautions are adequate. We will then decide whether or not to grant a licence and if the licence needs to include any conditions requiring any changes.
Fees and Charges
The Council will make a charge for administering and issuing a licence. Fees must however, reflect the actual costs of licensing a property and have a structure which is fair and transparent.
A licence will last for a maximum of five years, although it may be issued for a shorter period in certain circumstances.
Mandatory HMO Licence (property up to 9 rooms) £747.78
Charge per additional room above 9 £21.44
Finding an unlicensed property £171.49
Licensing reminder letter £17.49
Inadequate application £17.49
Inadequate certification £17.49
Failure to provide plans/not satisfactory £17.49
It is a legal requirement for Local Authorities to provide a Public Register of all specific details relating to licensable HMOs. Copies can be viewed and printed from downloads/links. A copy is available on request from Housing Standards, please ring 01204 338912.
FAQs for licensing
What should I do if I think my property needs to be licensed but isn't?
If you think your property needs to be licensed contact Housing Standards (see contacts) without further delay or refer to the application form in the downloads section.
Is there a time limit to apply for a HMO licence?
There is no prescribed time limit in law, but should a property be identified by this department as an unlicensed HMO, a finder’s fee of £171.49 will be charged. The person responsible will then be given adequate opportunity to apply for a licence before legal proceedings are instigated. It is a criminal offence if an application form is not submitted within a reasonable amount of time, without a reasonable excuse for doing so. Please note that under section 72 (1) of the Housing Act 2004, it is an offence punishable by a fine of up to £20,000. A person will not be guilty of such an offence if there is an effective application outstanding with the Council for the granting of a licence or a temporary exemption notice.
During any period in which an offence of, controlling or managing a HMO which ought to be licensed, but is not licensed, is committed no rent is payable for occupation of the property. In such cases the occupiers or the Council (where Housing Benefit has been paid) can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for a rent repayment order. This order would require the landlord to pay back rent collected over the period the offence was committed.
Who can hold the HMO Licence?
The owner / landlord or someone they nominate, such as a manager or agent can hold the licence, provided that person is in agreement. The licence must be held by most appropriate "fit and proper" person. In determining whether a licence holder is "fit and proper", we will consider:
- 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.
What criteria must I meet to be granted a licence?
To grant you a licence, the Council must be satisfied that:
- the proposed licence holder and any manager of the property is a fit and proper person;
- the proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence;
- proper management standards are being applied at the property;
- the HMO is reasonably suitable, or can be made suitable, for occupation by the number of tenants allowed under the licence with at least the minimum prescribed standards of amenities and facilities. These include the number, type of shared bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities.
How long does it take to determine a licence application?
The length of the application process will vary. Provided that a landlord has submitted a valid application, the HMO can continue to operate legally until we reach a decision and any appeals against that decision are complete.
How long does a licence last for?
Section 68 (4) of the Act provides that a licence may be granted for a maximum of five years. Licenses will be granted for this period where landlords have been found to be compliant with previous licence condition, maintained good property standards and demonstrated good management standards.
Are there conditions on the licence?
All licences granted are subject to conditions which the licence holder must comply with either immediately or within a specified period of time. Certain conditions as detailed in Schedule 4 of the Act are mandatory and must be included in every licence granted.
Taking into account these conditions as identified in the Act, we have produced a set of standard conditions which are attached to every licence. ( see downloads)
We can also impose any other specific property conditions considered necessary for regulating the management, use and occupation of the premises concerned plus its condition and contents.
Where specific works or actions are required, these will be set out in specific conditions and include what must be done and the timescale for compliance. This will vary from premises to premises.
I own several HMO's do all the properties need to be licensed?
You are required to obtain a licence for every property that falls within the HMO licensing criteria. i.e. a separate licence is required for each property.
What happens if my licence application is refused?
The consequences of refusing to grant a licence are serious for both the landlord and us. We have a duty to take on the management of the property by making an Interim Management Order.
Where a proposed licence holder or manager is assessed as being not fit and proper, we will work with that person wherever possible with a view to agreeing an alternative person who is fit and proper.
Can I appeal the Council's decision?
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.
Appeals should be made to the Residential Property Tribunal, normally within 28 days. The Tribunal will also hear appeals regarding any enforcement notices that the Council may serve.
What happens when my existing licence expires?
Housing Standards will send you a reminder and an application form prior to the expiry date.
The managing agent details have changed - what should I do?
If the managing agent is the licence holder, the licence will need to be revoked, and the new managing agent / owner will have to apply for a licence in their own right. If the managing agent is not the licence holder or manager, you need to write to us, and we will update our records.
I have sold my property, what should I do?
The existing licence will be revoked by us. The new owner will have to apply for a licence in their own right if it is to continue as a House in Multiple Occupation.
I want to convert my property back into a single family dwelling?
You may either:
- notify us that the licence be revoked;
- allow the licence to run until it expires, then notify us that it's no longer required.
Can I report unlicensed HMO's?
Yes, contact Housing Standards; your details will remain confidential.
Do I have to obtain planning permission to operate a licensed HMO?
It is the owner/managers responsibility to ensure that the premises being used as a HMO has planning permission or is permitted under planning legislation. It is also advisable to contact Building Control for advice if you are making alterations to buildings.
All HMO's are subject to the government legislation. This legislation places certain duties on the individuals managing the property. This department has also developed Amenity Standards.
The Management of HMO's (England) Regulations 2006
Licensing and Management of HMO's (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007
Housing Act 2004 and HHSRS
Lacors Fire Safety Guidance
Copies can viewed and printed from downloads/links