Houses in multiple occupation

What is a HMO?

Your home is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if:

  • At least 3 tenants live there forming more than one household; and
  • You share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

A household can mean either a single person or members of the same family who live together and people in same-sex relationships.

If you live in a HMO, your landlord must meet certain standards and obligations. You can find out more about these standards and obligations from Shelter (external link)

Does a HMO have to be licensed?

A HMO must be licensed if the property is occupied by five or more people forming two or more households. For example, a property being rented by 5 single people who are not related to each other will need a licence.

The council keeps a register of all licensed HMOs in the borough. The register can be found at this link.

If your property is not on the register and you think it should be licensed, contact the Private Sector Housing Team for further advice.

What happens if a landlord does not licence a HMO?

It is a criminal offence to manage or control a HMO that should be licensed but is not. All applications for a licence should be made before the property is let.

If a landlord lets a property before applying for a licence, the landlord is immediately committing a criminal offence.

If a landlord is found to be operating a HMO without a licence, the council should either issue a civil penalty or prosecute. However, the Council has decided to allow a 4 week grace period for an application to be made before enforcement action is taken.

Minimum sleeping room sizes and waste disposal provision

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 amends Schedule 4 of the Housing Act 2004 by introducing new conditions that must be included in licences that have been granted. These are:

  • Mandatory national minimum sleeping room sizes
  • Waste disposal provision requirements

From 1 October 2018 the Council must impose conditions as to the minimum room size which may be occupied as sleeping accommodation in the HMO. A room smaller than this must not be used as sleeping accommodation. Communal space in other parts of the HMO cannot be used to compensate for rooms smaller than the prescribed minimum. The minimum room sizes are:

  • 6.51 sqm for one person over 10 years of age
  • 10.22 sqm for two persons over 10 years of age
  • 4.64 sqm for one child under the age of 10 years

Rooms less than 4.64 sqm cannot be used as sleeping accommodation and the landlord will need to notify the Council if they have rooms smaller than this.

Any area of the room where the ceiling height is less than 1.5m cannot be counted.

The Council must also state the maximum number of persons aged over and or under 10 years of age that can occupy specified rooms.

If a landlord fails to comply, the licence holder is liable to an unlimited fine on prosecution or the Council can issue a civil penalty of up to £30,000.

Where the Council is granting a licence on or after the 1 October 2018 (whether or not the HMO was licensed immediately before that date), the landlord will be given time to comply. The landlord will be given a notice stating the time period he/she has to comply.

Licences starting before 1 October 2018 will remain valid until it is due for renewal. At renewal, the new conditions will be imposed.

All licences issued after 1 October 2018 must include a condition requiring compliance with the Council's storage and waste disposal scheme (if one exists). Failure to do so is a breach and a criminal offence.

You can find out more about licensing reforms from (external link)

Are there any controls on HMOs which do not need a licence?

All HMOs have to be managed in accordance with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006, irrespective of whether they need to be licensed. Failure to comply with these regulations could see the landlord issued with a civil penalty or prosecuted.

I am a landlord, how do I apply for a licence?

You can apply for a new HMO licence or renew and existing licence online through the portal. Payment can also be made through the portal. Please note, applications are only valid when accompanied by the necessary supporting documents and fee.

If you are not sure whether your property needs a licence, are having difficulties completing the application or have any further queries, please be in contact with the Private Sector Housing Team and we will be able to assist further.

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